The pandemic has impacted our drinking habits and has increased the amount of alcohol-related deaths by a significant margin.
We don’t need a study to inform us that alcohol consumption has increased with the pandemic. You can probably see that on your credit card statement. Still, as more studies come out, the more the picture gets worse, with COVID-19 drinking exceeding our predictions and affecting the world in a myriad of ways. According to a new study, alcohol-related deaths have increased by 25% between 2019 and 2020.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted on people aged 16 and older.
The statistics accounted for a variety of scenarios that related to alcohol deaths, including underlying mental health conditions or the combination of opioids and alcohol. It listed up to 20 contributing causes. While the researchers’ net was wide, they also accounted for deaths of all causes in that year and found relatively little increase, suggesting that alcohol did play a part in the deaths that were reported.
“Deaths involving alcohol reflect hidden tolls of the pandemic. Increased drinking to cope with pandemic-related stressors, shifting alcohol policies, and disrupted treatment access are all possible contributing factors,” wrote the study’s researchers. “Whether alcohol-related deaths will decline as the pandemic wanes, and whether policy changes could help reduce such deaths, warrants consideration.”
Alcohol issues have grown pervasive since the pandemic, influencing people in ways small and large. The majority of these issues stem from developing an alcohol disorder, a term that encapsulates a variety of behaviors that range from having difficulty balancing the need to drink with doing other activities, experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, and continuing to use alcohol even when it causes physical and mental problems.
A study shows that changes in alcohol consumption have been significant, with drinking days increasing 14% since the start of the pandemic. For women, these numbers are even higher, reporting a 41% increase in heavy drinking days. Researchers speculate this is due to women having to balance, work, their personal lives, and their household throughout the past 2 years.
The pandemic has submitted us all to great amounts of stress. While it’s understandable to turn to alcohol for relief, it’s also important to factor in other self-care activities that can make you feel happier and healthier.