COVID-19 And The Spike In Alcohol Sales

In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the onset of a global pandemic. COVID-19 spread throughout the globe, uprooting the daily lives of millions. As the world hunkered down to quarantine, millions of Americans canceled activities and prepared. Some turned to alcohol to cope with the sudden change. 

Right after the announcement of the global pandemic, the sales of alcoholic beverages spiked. In the United States, the overall alcohol market grew by 55%, and online alcohol sales skyrocketed to a startling 243%. Despite bar, club, and restaurant closure, liquor revenue rose from $29 billion in 2019 to $31.2 billion in 2020. 

COVID-19 Alcohol And Addiction 

The effects of COVID-19 have trickled across countless households. Families are experiencing high levels of stress while juggling their children’s school activities, work-from-home responsibilities, and housework. Others are struggling financially, with social isolation and general uncertainties. The high levels of stress have triggered a spike in alcohol demand and addiction rates in the U.S. Stress is associated with an increased risk for alcohol use, alcohol-related problems, and alcohol use disorders (AUD). Some of the most common health manifestations due to COVID-19 include anxiety, poor sleep, and hypochondriac beliefs.

Alcohol abuse hit an all-time-high in 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 13% of Americans used alcohol or drugs to deal with COVID-19 related stressors. Those under lockdown or quarantine increased their heavy alcohol use from 21.0% (in March) to 40.7% (in September). The surge in alcohol use has the scientific and health community highly concerned.

In the U.S., more than 95,000 people die from dangerous alcohol use every year. Alcohol abuse shortens the life of an individual an average of 29 years. Every year a total of 2.8 million years of potential life is lost to alcohol.

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Previous Devastations And Alcohol Misuse

With increased alcohol use, sales, and ER visits related to alcohol use, there is no question that COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the lives of Americans and people around the world. The stress that has been caused by the pandemic is not isolated to this single experience. Other devastating occurrences such as terrorist attacks and recessions cause similar levels of stress, mental health disturbances, and potentially increased alcohol abuse.

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology looked into the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, and terrorist events in Israel and England and discovered that there was increased alcohol use up to 2 years after these events. An estimated 7.3% of people exposed to one of these events presented with alcohol misuse. The study also found that those who were exposed to terrorist attacks had higher rates of binge drinking, which increased with how involved they were with the event, such as if they knew someone who lost their life in the attack. Alcohol abuse was even more common in those with PTSD symptoms.

Researchers from the Frontiers study examined drinking patterns and the Great Recession of 2008 and found that there was decreased alcohol consumption during this time. This was likely due to reduced wages, higher debts, and loss of purchasing power. However, during this time the rate of binge drinking increased in certain populations like the unemployed, young people, and men. Economic adversity has been found to be associated with increased rates of alcohol misuse.

Finding Treatment For Alcohol Addiction

Drinking is a popular pastime in the U.S., and in 2020, while people quarantined, it became even more common. However, reaching for an alcoholic beverage every time a person is bored/stressed is problematic. Habitual alcohol use can lead to an alcohol use disorder (AUD). More than 15 million people are battling AUD in the U.S. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, young men are at an increased risk of developing an AUD. If the individuals recently lost their primary jobs due to COVID-19, the risk is even higher.  

Developing an AUD can happen to anyone. Alcohol use disorders are the most common addictions in America. Unfortunately, SARS-CoV-2 contributed to the spike in rates among Americans, as seen in alcohol sales for 2020. Fortunately, there are several addiction treatment centers ready to help anyone battling a substance use disorder. Thousands of people are prioritizing their health and seeking treatment. Contact a treatment provider and discover the many options you or a loved one have. Begin to take back control of your life by contacting a treatment provider today.

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Suzette Gomez

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  • Suzette Gomez earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida. Her desire to help others led her to a Pre-medical track with a focus on psychological and social development. After graduation, she pursued her passion for writing and began working as a Digital Content Writer at Recovery Worldwide LLC. With her background in medicine, Suzette uses both science and the arts to serve the public through her writing.

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