Obviously, the COVID-19 (or coronavirus) situation is causing a lot of unfortunate headlines. But an important one may have slipped under the radar for most people. According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC), alcohol sales have seen a dramatic spike since the nation’s quarantine orders have gone into effect.
The stats looked at the month of March 2020 and compared it to March 2019. Side by side, researchers saw more than a 55 percent increase in alcohol sales during that time period. That is particularly alarming, since (as we’ve covered before) this situation is leading to a time of more loneliness and vulnerability.
It is also worth noting that “virtual happy hours” are on the rise, which encourage people to drink with their friends via computer cams. The CDC researchers believe that the uptick is related to coping need and noted an increase in binge drinking habits. Whatever the reason, people do seem to be consuming beer, wine and spirits in large quantities at the moment (and going through their purchases rather quickly).
Georgia CBS affiliate WRDW covered the story and interviewed some local recovery advocates to get their perspective. Christian Frazier heads a treatment group in Augusta and shared a meaningful perspective with the outlet.
“Fears of abandonment and rejection and abuse are coming back up for folks,” Frazier explained. “It’s a huge trigger for our population. There is no meetings except for online. People are in their houses upward of 22 hours a day.”
Another trend that was pointed out was the supposed decline in sober meeting participants since the quarantining began. We certainly applaud all treatment centers who are shifting their programs online. But the sad fact is, not everyone is willing to adapt to that format.
Frazier openly admitted that the meetings that he oversees saw a dramatic decline in attendance, despite being readily available via the Zoom Meeting app.
“We saw a sharp decrease in meeting attendance last month,” Frazier emphasized. “We had 400 last month — a dip of 200 people and that’s taking account of people online in virtual meetings. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection, and our connection has been severed right now, and we are trying to come up with ways to reestablish it and nurture it.”
If you or someone you know may have relapsed into alcoholism since the COVID-19 outbreak began, please reach out for extra support.