COVID and Alcohol Abuse

People with an alcohol use disorder are battling a chronic illness that impacts everything about their life. They may start by having a few drinks after work, then have the disease progress to the point where that person spends most of their time alone drinking. The loneliness caused by working from home, social distancing, and other shelter impacts in place orders because of the COVID-19 pandemic may exacerbate that behavior.

Alcohol Use Disorder in Isolation

Isolation from others can be a symptom of an alcohol use disorder under normal circumstances. People may start pulling away from friends and loved ones as a way of hiding how much they are drinking. They may feel lonely or misunderstood. Some people start drinking heavily to cope with life changes like the death of someone close to them or ending a relationship.

Individuals who abuse alcohol may start pushing others away because they don’t want to answer their drinking habits. They are put off at the idea of being lectured or reprimanded. It can be easier to deny that there is a problem when there is no one to tell you where you might be going wrong. Stay at home orders make it easier for people with alcohol addiction to give in to their worst impulses.

COVID and Alcohol Abuse

When you go from working in an office to working from home, you may find yourself straying beyond your normal boundaries. It might be that you could keep yourself from having a drink during work hours because of what your colleagues might say. The familiarity of your home surroundings might cause you to have a drink before a virtual meeting or slip away to drink when you are supposed to be finishing a work project.

The behavior might become worse as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. Even with the promise of a vaccine, many people have trouble picturing a time when things might start to resemble something close to pre-pandemic life. Because of that uncertainty, you may not be able to pull yourself out of the spiral of alcoholism you slipped into because of your isolation.

From Social Drinking to Alcohol Abuse

Even if you do not have a history of alcohol abuse, isolation can lead to drinking more than usual. People who may have been social drinkers before the pandemic may start consuming more alcohol to deal with the stress. It can start slowly, with your evening drink moving up to two o’clock or seeing the bottle of wine that used to take a few days to consume ending up empty in a day.

To avoid the slippery slope of alcoholism, it can help to remember the CDC definition of what might qualify as heavy drinking, which is typically defined as:

  • 15 drinks or more in one week for men
  • 8 drinks or more in one week for women
  • 5 drinks or more at one time for men
  • 4 drinks or more at one time for women

Dealing With Alcoholism in Isolation

Once you can acknowledge the truth about how much alcohol you consume, it can help to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel you need to cut back on your drinking?
  • Have people expressed concern or criticism about how much you drink?
  • Do you feel guilty or upset about how much you drink?
  • Do you need a drink in the morning to steady yourself?

It is a good idea to seek help from an addiction specialist if you have serious concerns about your drinking level. They may recommend alcohol addiction treatment at a residential facility or outpatient treatment if your condition is not severe. It’s also a good option if a more flexible treatment option.

Northern Illinois Recovery Center offers programs to help people working through addiction issues, including:

Learn more about our available services by calling 855.786.1978.