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The Future of Alcoholism Beyond The Pandemic

We know it may seem like a long way from now, but the COVID-19 health pandemic will end and people will eventually return to their normal routines. But when that day comes, what kind of long-lasting effects will this situation have had; particularly when it pertains to addictions? It’s certainly a question worth addressing and one that the NPR site did a nice job of summarizing; specifically in regards to alcoholism.


In a recent article on their site, NPR writer Brian Mann touched on the “hangover” from the alcohol boom we’re currently experiencing. That, of course, is in reference to the sharp increase in booze consumption since the nation began its quarantine mandates. Once things do settle down, can people pull back on the ritualistic drinking habits they’ve now become accustomed to?


Mann’s latest research uncovered that alcohol sales have increased more than 30 percent over the previous year (and that’s being conservative). Lax laws on booze deliveries have certainly contributed to the spike and Mann predicts that many Americans will have a hard time letting go of that luxury once the world stabilizes.


Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, a researcher with the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse, was interviewed for the NPR piece and voiced concern about ongoing drinking habits that are forming during COVID-19.


“I get worried when people think about alcohol as a tool to unwind, a tool to cope with stress and anxiety,” he explained. “We know from previous traumatic events, Katrina and 9/11, people who survived some of them developed alcohol use disorder relating to the increase in stress.”


And alcohol is very addictive; so even if people want to ween off their dependencies as the coronavirus winds down, it may not be so easy to do. We can also expect symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) to develop throughout the life of this pandemic. People losing jobs, disconnecting from society and watching loved ones succumb to the coronavirus can certainly contribute to their alcoholism.


Even the World Health Organization has issued a statement about the concerning rise in alcohol consumption. In their view, governments should think twice about making liquor easily accessible (and almost encouraged) during this difficult time. Because we might not see it today, but the ripple effects from these alarming stats could ultimately be quite concerning.


The NPR piece even closed with a powerful quote from WHO rep Carina Ferreira-Borges.


“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we should really ask ourselves what risks we are taking in leaving people under lockdown in their homes with [alcohol],” she stated.