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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Alcohol Use Changed Right After COVID-19 Lockdown

Not many people could have predicted COVID-19 becoming a full-blown pandemic when it was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Since then, the disease has claimed lives and completely crippled social activities around the world. With many Americans forced to stay indoors due to lockdown rules, there have been concerns over how the situation could affect lives.

Unsurprisingly, many have turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism. How much alcohol are people taking compared to before the pandemic?  Who are the most vulnerable? When and how can addicts get help from AA meetings with the lockdown and social distancing restrictions?

According to a study by Washington State University, one in four adults experienced an immediate change in alcohol use right after COVID-19 Lockdown measures were enforced. The research was conducted to see the impact of stress and anxiety in the change in alcohol use during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Results showed that people with higher levels of anxiety and stress drank more alcohol as soon as the lockdown began.  This would suggest that people with mental health issues have had a more difficult time coping.

From what's been reported from around the world, the change in alcohol use isn't peculiar to the US. According to Alcohol Change UK, one in 5 persons reported an increase in alcohol use during the pandemic. An interesting statistic from both researches shows that many people have also reported a decrease in alcohol usage since the lockdown started.

Washington State University reports that 11% of the subjects from their survey reported a decrease in alcohol use. So, if stress and anxiety can lead to increased alcohol use? What's responsible for the decrease in certain people? The lead author of the study, Ally Avery, suggests that people who are drinking less during the pandemic might be social drinkers. The reduction in alcohol intake could be due to the absence of social activities that would otherwise induce them to drink.

While alcohol use change is evident from the above research, there's no real way to determine if Americans have been consuming more alcohol now compared to before the pandemic. According to USA Nielsen Company, internet alcohol sales has seen a 240% increase since the start of COVID-19 lockdown. But with bars and wine stores closed, there was bound to be an increase in alcohol purchases on the internet. This makes it difficult to know if there's an actual increase in alcohol consumption in general.

The sooner people get back to their lives before the pandemic, the quicker they can avoid alcohol dependency due to stress and anxiety from staying at home. With the number of daily infections still on the high side, there's no predicting when normalcy will be restored. It is, therefore, imperative that people who have been drinking more take the necessary steps to get help as soon as possible.

If you have been drinking more during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can join a support group to help you stay sober. Over the years, AA meetings have proved to be effective in helping people achieve sobriety.

What is AA? It is an acronym for Alcoholics Anonymous, a nonprofessional support group that helps its members to stay sober. The group sets a 12 step recovery program for members to help them recover from alcohol addiction.

What are the types of AA meetings? There are two main types of as meetings. They are open meetings and closed meetings. Open AA meetings encourage third party support to aid a suffering alcoholic's recovery. Often, these meetings are attended by nurses, doctors, social workers, prison officers, or teachers. The idea is to have the presence of people who are frequently in contact with the recovering alcoholic due to the nature of their job. This show of concern and a willingness to help can go a long way in aiding alcoholics on their road to recovery.

Closed meetings are exclusively open to people with a drinking problem. In this type of meeting, members are encouraged to share their journey so far. They talk about their drinking problem and how AA meetings have helped to keep them sober. Some of these meetings are known as 'step' meetings where there is a discussion on one of the 12 steps of recovery.

How long do AA meetings last? Meetings usually last for about an hour. AA strives to keep meetings as short as possible so members can go back to their normal lives. Although sometimes, meetings can last longer than an hour but only for a few more minutes.

Before the pandemic, recovering alcoholics could get help by joining one of several AA meetings USA locations close to them. Now that the lockdown and social distancing rules have kept people from physical meetings, can you still join as meetings? Luckily, yes. AA meetings have been moved online to enable people to continue their recovery despite the COVID-19 lockdown.

Members can connect via Skype or Zoom to join meetings. You can find a suitable meeting group in their online meetings directory.

Alcohol addiction is not just bad for you, it can also affect people around you. It has been cited as one of the leading causes of domestic violence. It can break relationships that have taken years to build too. This is why it's important to get help as soon as possible.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had what would likely be a lasting impact on our world. Many have lost their jobs, loved ones, and can no longer do most of the things that kept them happy. Borders have been shut and schools have been closed. It has no doubt been a difficult year all round. This, coupled with the mental exhaustion from staying indoors every day can have damning effects on people's mental health.

As studies have shown, this has made many to turn quickly to alcohol use. Unless such people get help, there's no telling how worse off their lives would be even when the pandemic is over. If you know a friend or family member who has been drinking a little too much, you should encourage them to get help by joining an AA meeting online for support. Also, people who are having a more difficult time coping with the pandemic can do with some much-needed love and care to help them get through these difficult times.

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