Given alcohol use disorders account for 80% of substance use disorder diagnoses — and increased in recent years — COVID-19’s ubiquitous virtual happy hours, signature “quarantini,” relaxed alcohol delivery laws and 55% increase in alcohol sales are cause for alarm.
Alcohol-related emergency department visits and deaths had already dramatically risen before COVID-19. Further increases are the last thing health-care systems strained by COVID-19 need. Alcohol use also increases risk for infection and poor immune response, and could amplify the pandemic’s mental-health toll.
So, while it’s likely fine to raise a glass to health as you shelter-in-place, stick to recommended limits: seven or fewer standard drinks per week (and less than four on a single occasion) for women, and 14 or fewer standard drinks per week (and less than five on a single occasion) for men.
If you feel like you need help with that, many options are available (the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is a great resource), including counseling, medications and peer-support groups attended by the courageous people in recovery featured in the March 31 article.
Katherine Hoerster, Ph.D., MPH; Andrew J. Saxon, M.D.; and Emily C. Williams, Ph.D., MPH, University of Washington (views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the UW)