Many of us have been spending a bit more time on social media lately. Those of us that have will no doubt recognize the memes and posts jokingly pointing out the increased drinking that our friends, families, and coworkers are splashing all over their walls and feeds. While a lot of that is meant in jest, pointing out the frustrations that rise from boredom and the like, it does highlight yet another side effect of this Coronavirus pandemic – that addiction is taking hold in places that it never would have had this Covid-19 crisis not happened.
Days, once filled with work, school, events, errands, and more are now filled with sitting at home, waiting out stay-at-home orders. Boredom, depression, anxiety, the need to do something familiar, these emotions and more creep in, combine and begin to break down coping mechanisms long established to keep addiction at bay, or they slowly allow for an almost indiscernible increase in drinking that soon turns into alcohol abuse.
This problem is made even worse, especially for people who have never experienced substance abuse issues, by the fact that so many are making alcohol a part of, or the centerpoint of, the gatherings that can now take place. Where one or two times per week of socializing and gathering with friends and family was once the norm, now almost every day includes a Facetime, Zoom, or Skype with a different friend or family member, a watch party amongst a group of friends, or a livestream concert or event. We gather, we have fun, we talk, we joke, and many of us drink during these events that help ease the social isolation that has befallen almost all of us.
One or two days of social/excessive drinking per week has suddenly become 5, 6, or even 7 days of hard drinking per week. A whole new generation of addicts is being consumed. A whole new epidemic is rising – an addiction epidemic.
Some are thinking that it can’t really be all that bad. Well, the numbers here do not lie. According to a recent Neilsen market study, alcoholic beverage sales on a whole were up 55% across the country, with sales of spirits spiking 75%, beer jumping 66%, and wine sales increasing by 42% when compared to the same time last year. Sales of pre-mixed alcoholic beverages have surged to record blasting levels as well. People are buying, and drinking, much more than they ever have.
While it is still mostly unknown what actually causes alcohol dependency, one thing is certain – anyone can develop an alcohol addiction.
At its base, alcohol dependency begins when one has consumed so much alcohol over a certain period of time (that period differs for everyone – could be one night of drinking, might be a 2 week bender, no one really knows) that the chemical make-up of the brain changes. These changes increase the pleasurable feelings associated with drinking and cause varying levels of cravings to occur. These cravings can be mild and easily dismissed, or overwhelming and all consuming – again, it differs for everyone. Regardless, these chemical changes make you want to drink more, and more often. Eventually, those feelings end at the current level of drinking and require more drinking to be reactivated. Along with that lessening of pleasure, and increased need for alcohol, comes the drinking that is done to prevent withdrawal symptoms. It is at this point that alcoholism is in full effect.
Notice anything familiar in that path of addiction? Anything that might connect the creation of an alcoholic to our current situation with Coronavirus?
Whereas before, alcoholism might be a little more difficult for some people to become consumed by – perhaps because they had been way too busy to drink in the amounts necessary to hook their bodies on alcohol, or they drank only socially and/or in moderation – now, with our current environment of forced stay-at-home, drinking is much easier, helps the time go by, allows you to feel like you’re still participating in a social life, etc. People who were never even close to being addicted to alcohol are now finding that they are in the grip of alcoholism, thanks to the circumstances present within this pandemic.
At Compass Detox, and at our industry partner facilities around the nation, we are seeing the beginnings of this new pandemic. People wake up one day and suddenly realize what is happening, and they want out – now. And that is why we exist.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol can be a very sneaky thing. It’s not always big, loud, crazy, frantic. It can happen in the blink of an eye, or over the course of a couple of weeks where you’ve let your guard down. If this is the case with you or a loved one, reach out to us today – 800.26.DETOX. We are ready and waiting, even during this crisis, to break addiction’s grip – no matter how new it might be.