Americans consuming more alcohol during pandemic, study suggests

Coronavirus

ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) — A new study suggests American adults have sharply increased their consumption of alcohol during the pandemic.

The study conducted by the RAND Corporation compared alcohol use in the spring of 2019 to 2020.

Overall, adults are consuming 14% more alcohol. Among women, there’s been a 41% increase in heavy drinking and one in five women are having one additional day of heavy drinking every month.

Paul Pellinger, a Fort Lauderdale addiction expert, says it’s concerning how many people are seeking to ease their pain and isolation by turning to alcohol.

“It’s very easy to rationalize, ‘Hey, listen, I’m dealing with this anxiety, fear of the unknown, what’s going on the country right now.’ It would make sense to drink,” Pellinger said.

Pellinger says turning to alcohol comes at a cost.

“If you have a problem with anxiety and fear surrounding the pandemic or just life or life on life’s terms and you start to drink, and doing it abusively, now you have two problems,” Pellinger said.

Pellinger says it’s helpful to determine if a person’s drinking is creating consequences in their life.

“Are you hiding it? Are you minimizing the use? Is there a certain frequency going on? Are you using it to self-medicate or deal with other issues?” Pellinger asked.

The CDC defines heavy drinking for women as eight or more drinks per week and for men as 15 or more drinks.

If someone fears they are developing an alcohol problem, Pellinger suggests finding ways to experience peace and gratitude like listening to music or exercising.

“Imagine if you could get those good feelings from within rather them seeking an external stimuli you would not need to drink to cope because you would be, let’s say content,” Pellinger said.

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