Legacy Healing Center Blog
Anxiety, Depression and Substance Abuse During COVID-19
The world has been struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic for most of 2020, and the virus shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, the rate of infection in much of the world has accelerated in recent weeks, and public health experts warn that the worst may be still to come.
In response, many governments are implementing more lockdowns, closing restaurants, shuttering local stores, and banning even small holiday gatherings. And while those public health experts are trying to walk a fine line between keeping people safe and protecting their economies, those who suffer from anxiety, depression, stress, and isolation find it increasingly harder to cope.
In the wake of the COVID-19 quarantine and ongoing lockdowns, alcoholism and alcohol abuse rates are increasing in many parts of the world. As the virus rages on, another epidemic is in place, one with those suffering from social isolation struggling like never before.
Why Many Are Turning To Alcohol in This Difficult Time
In the age of the coronavirus, nothing feels normal anymore. People are dealing with multiple unforeseen stresses and searching for ways to cope. Unfortunately, for many that means drinking more alcohol. Many casual drinkers who have always moderated their alcohol use in the past are now finding themselves drinking to excess as they deal with isolation and overwhelm. For people who have already been struggling with alcohol abuse, coping with quarantine restrictions and an uncertain future can mean that sobriety takes a backseat. The long term implications for individuals and society are worrying.
There are many reasons why people are turning to alcohol during this difficult time, but an attempt to deal with depression and anxiety is certainly one of the most profound. When stress and fear are all around us in times like these, it is easy to turn to the soothing balm of alcohol, even if the relief is only temporary.
Effects on People in Recovery
Anyone can fall victim to excessive drinking and alcoholism during a stressful time, but those in recovery are at even greater risk. After working so hard to get sober, many recovering alcoholics are suddenly finding themselves falling into old behaviors.
It has not helped that many cities and states have kept their liquor stores open during coronavirus quarantines, and in some places, even allowing for alcohol to be delivered to people at home. At the same time, community centers, 12-step meetings and churches have had to close their doors. The contradictions are all too obvious, especially to those struggling to keep their support network strong and stay sober during such a stressful time.
How to Know When Drinking Has Become a Problem
Many people are turning to alcohol in the age of the coronavirus. There have been plenty of jokes on late night talk-shows and viral videos about drunken Zoom calls and virtual happy hours. Its easy to think that drinking more is just a normal part of life right now. But how do you know if your drinking has crossed the line and become a problem?
For many years one of the signs of alcoholism has been drinking alone, now due to Covid-19 restrictions, many people are home alone, making this a tricky grey area. If you find yourself drinking regularly to escape your daily struggles, then you are using alcohol as an emotional crutch and it is time to take a hard look at your behavior. If you have a history of alcoholism and substance abuse, any return to drinking is cause for serious concern and a reason to make a call for support right away.
Ways to Cope with Stress Without Alcohol or Drugs
It’s easy to turn to alcohol in stressful times because it’s readily available and socially acceptable to do so. But its important to remember that numbing your emotions with alcohol only provides a temporary escape and only makes feelings of anxiety and depression worse over time. There are many more effective ways to cope with the stresses surrounding COVID-19.
Get Some Exercise: Something as simple as taking a walk can do you a world of good, and you do not have to pick up a glass or open a bottle to enjoy it. Just bring your mask, practice social distancing and get some exercise in the open air.
Stay Connected: Its more important now than ever to keep your support system close. Call friends and family more than usual, it will be good for both of you. You can also schedule virtual group calls. However you choose to connect, its crucial to stay in close touch with friends, family, your sponsor, your sober coach, and anyone else who supports you in positive ways.
Meet Up Virtually: If you’re in recovery, another important part of keeping your support system strong is continuing to attend support groups and 12-step meetings. Many are happening either online or outdoors these days so you should be able to find groups you feel comfortable attending. Also, don’t forget about other kinds of groups and meet-ups that bring like-minded people together around common interests. Again, many of these are happening virtually now, bringing the added benefit that you can join up with groups around the country, and even across the globe, that you wouldn’t have had access to if it were in-person.
Practice Self Care: Caring for yourself is always essential to good mental health, but right now its important to really prioritize your self-care. Make sure you’re giving yourself ample time for things you enjoy and that you know are good for you, at least on a daily basis. Focusing on activities that bring you joy can help you cope with the COVID-19 pandemic without falling prey to the dangers of alcoholism and substance abuse.
If you’re worried about your drinking and have questions, or if you’re ready to seek help, we urge you to reach out today. Quality behavioral health treatment, like that at Legacy Healing Center, is more essential in these strange times than ever before. Our staff is here to help you get the support you need, whether its for yourself or someone you care about. Call 888.534.2295 anytime 24/7. Calls are completely confidential.