The lockdown continues in most parts of the world. Residents are being told to keep with social distancing. People are still being told by their elected officials; they cannot work and cannot make a living to support their family. Media across the globe is covering this pandemic day and night, and summer has been canceled in most communities. Families are improvising to keep restless children occupied. Overall, households are adapting to what is deemed the new normal. Unemployment and rates of poverty increase week by week, while food banks struggle to keep up with demand.

It is challenging not to place all your attention and focus on all that is happening in the world. With the way things are, most would understand why you would have an extra drink. However, it becomes easy and even risky to deal with the current stress and worry of on-going problems with alcohol. Alcohol abuse is already a significant economic and health burden, but unfortunately, this pandemic will have amplified these issues. It is essential now to recognize if your alcohol use has gone too far amid social distancing, and this is how you can do it.

What Is Moderate Drinking? – A standard drink size in the United States is 12 ounces of 5% beer, eight ounces of 7% malt liquor, five ounces of 12% wine, and 1.5 ounces of 40% distilled spirits or liquor. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that if alcohol is consumed, it is done so in moderation. Moderate drinking for women is up to one drink per day, whereas for men, it is up to two drinks per day. This is not intended as an average over several days, but an amount consumed on a single day. Approximately two in three adults report drinking above these moderate levels at least once a month.

Have you ever felt you should cut back on your drinking? – The only person who can answer this question is the individual drinking. Setting aside what would be considered an alcoholic as an alcoholic’s body and brain physically crave alcohol. Also, most severe alcoholics require alcohol to function each day. But answer this question honestly from your perspective of what is currently happening in the world and your circumstances. Looking at your current situation amid COVID-19, whether with work, family, or other responsibilities – ask this question and answer it honestly. Do not ask for anyone else’s opinion or have someone answer this question for you. This requires a lot of self-honesty and recognizing if your drinking has gone too far during social distancing and self-isolation.

If Honesty is not a Strong Suit, Accept the Criticism – If you are incapable of honestly answering the question above, or even asking it for that matter – has anyone in your household began to criticize your excessive drinking? Also, have you gotten annoyed by this criticism and defended your increased alcohol consumption. If you have become defensive about your drinking during a calm and rational discussion, it is time to recognize there is a potential issue. What is happening in the world right now has made it easy to justify drinking more alcohol. Overall, people are consuming more alcohol currently than before the pandemic. Alcohol is an easy way to deal with stress, and liquor stores were deemed essential services within most communities. However, if the people you are living with are pointing out a potential issue, it is something to pay attention to.  

Do you feel guilty about drinking more alcohol? – Another question to answer honestly, despite the need to avoid the emotion of guilt. Everyone going through this pandemic is dealing with it in their own way. However, there are healthy and unhealthy ways of coping with stress. Excessive drinking is a harmful way of dealing with added pressure. Doing something you know is not necessary or does more harm than good will cause a feeling of guilt. Recognize this emotion for what it is as a way of saying it is time to change things up. It is so easy to fall into problematic drinking during times of excessive stress and worry. The global pandemic has created this for everybody, and alcohol has become an unnecessary solution for countless people.

How to Correct the Problem – Not everyone who is drinking more alcohol now than before will come out of this pandemic diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. However, recognizing these indicators, even if they are small, will save you in the long run. It is up to us to consider our mental-wellbeing and the mental-wellbeing of those we are self-isolating and social distancing with. It is also up to us to find healthy ways to deal with current daily stressors amid these restrictions.

Stay connected to the people you are living with and stay virtually connected to family and friends you are not living with. Take advantage of the warm weather if you can, and long walks in your neighborhood are more beneficial than you think. If you are struggling, virtual and online counseling does help, especially if you are living alone. These tough times will not last, but excessive drinking could lead to something that will still be there when this all over.