Over the past couple of years, several new trends have emerged regarding the way people consume alcohol. California Sober is one such example, which involves complete abstinence except for certain grace periods. And a newer one is now being classified as “Gray Area” Drinking, which apparently is seeing a rise in popularity amid COVID-19.
The concept of “gray area” drinking recently received some prominent coverage, courtesy of Yahoo News. As referenced in the article, it is defined as a sort of mild alcohol abuse disorder. And according to new research, it’s becoming a habit that is helping people cope with the stressors of quarantining and the coronavirus.
Dr. Jessica Gregg, chief medical officer for De Paul Treatment Centers in Portland, shared her thoughts on the matter with Yahoo. “With ‘gray area,’ it is looked at as someone who is not so far into their drinking that their body is dependent,” she explained. ” So they’re not in the severe end of the spectrum, but they are drinking in a way that makes their life worse as opposed to better.”
This type of behavior can really be looked at as a gateway into alcoholism and, as Dr. Gregg correctly points out, it is something people should be acutely aware of. A common scenario for “gray drinking” is drinking two to three times a week regularly. You may not have the everyday habits of an alcoholic, but those two to three nights become the highlight of your week and something you continuously look forward to.
Some of the latest COVID-19 data speaks to this trend as well. A survey that was put out in April found that 37 percent of Americans increased their alcohol consumption over the previous year. Now these aren’t people who became full blown alcoholics, but they all crept closer into that “gray drinking” area.
It is also worth noting that people with this condition are acutely aware that their drinking is heading down a dangerous path, which is why they are still making a conscious effort to control it. But the repetitive patterns often lead to addictions and the desire to drink more and more each week.
Secrecy and shame are part of the “gray drinking” experience as well. Though their consumption levels aren’t technically out of hand, people who fall into this sect still often hide their habit and do their drinking alone.
“Many of these individuals go through that tug and pull of saying ‘I want to stop,’” Dr. Gregg concluded. “And many of them can stop for a period of time, but then they will ultimately be drawn back in to increasing their use.”