Why Are You Drinking Today and What Does that Mean For Tomorrow?
Drinking Patterns Today Could Severely Impact Coping Now and After the Pandemic
One thing has remained consistent in 2020, alcohol sales and consumption have dramatically increased from pre-pandemic levels. When we were scrounging for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, alcohol was readily available: on-line ordering, conveniently through the click of an app; home delivery; off-premises sales at the restaurant near you; to-go specialty cocktails.
Nielsen’s market data found total alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants surged roughly 24% during the pandemic, drinks with higher alcohol content increasing even faster. The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority recorded a $117 million increase in sales for fiscal year 2020 compared to 2019, with online ordering, curbside pickup, and, in some places, home shipping.
Consumers are strongly encouraged to explore why, how often, and how much they are drinking: Is it for occasional virtual happy hours with friends? Is it to unwind? Is it cope with 2020 and all the stress and anxiety that has come with these times? Is it replacing other pre-pandemic coping skills and healthy options?
Why worry? Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, a researcher with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, worries that long after the pandemic passes, people will struggle with patterns of excessive drinking and addiction that start now while they’re isolating at home. Even before the pandemic, alcohol-related deaths occur at an alarming rate: Alcohol-related illnesses kill more than 88,000 Americans each year making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Are you drinking because you have a strong urge or need to drink? Are you drinking more often or more than you planned? Are you concerned about yourself or someone you love’s drinking? Think about a change. The decision to change your drinking is up to you. Mixed feelings are normal. Don’t wait to “hit bottom,” as changing sooner rather than later is always better. Once you’re ready to cut down or quit, reach out for help from VJLAP or a mental health provider.
VJLAP is here for you no matter what; we are not alone and were never meant to be. Recovery is about connection and, in this time of 2020, there are so many ways to connect.
“Hangover From Alcohol Boom Could Last Long After Pandemic Ends” (NPR). Read or Listen.
“Virginia liquor sales up $117M from same time last year” (Inside NOVa). Read more.
“Alcohol Facts and Statistics” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). Read more.