Ever since the pandemic lockdown in the United States, there had been alarming statistics in several areas, such as increases in mental health cases and domestic violence. According to a national survey, there was a significant increase in alcohol consumption, primarily in women.

The research was just published in the journal JAMA Network Open using the RAND Corporation American Life Panel. RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that researches policies and decision-making.

In the survey, 1.540 adults participated between May and June, while most states remained in lockdown. Sociologist Michael Pollard from RAND said that their research is the first survey-based study that shows increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic.

Significant Increase in Alcohol Consumption

At the end of March, online sales had increased by 292% compared to a year before. By April, the World Health Organization released a report regarding the restriction of alcohol use as excessive consumption can lead to "health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviors, mental health issues, and violence."

In agreement with the WHO's warning against excessive alcohol consumption, Pollard said that the beverage "can have significant negative health consequences." Their results can also suggest an additional way that the pandemic affects the mental and physical health of Americans as they opt to drink alcohol as a coping mechanism.

The WHO also addressed false information indicating "that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus. It does not." Consumption of high-strength ethanol can have severe health consequences and result in death.

According to the study, three or four adults averagely consumed alcohol one day per month. For women, there was a significant increase in alcohol consumption by 41%. The survey results also indicated an increase in alcohol-related problems (excluding consumption levels) for nearly 10% of American women.

Read Also: Study Warns That Even Low-risk Alcohol Consumption May Have Grave Consequences


Impact on Physical and Mental Health

Anxiety and depression statistics have already increased during the pandemic worldwide, and excessive drinking can make existing conditions even worse. Heavy drinking is defined as at least five drinks for men and four drinks for women.

Aside from negative health associations such as mental health problems, liver damage, obesity, and other illnesses, excessive alcohol use could worsen the health of women with pre-existing conditions.

The Short Inventory of Problems included 15 scenarios rated between zero and three, including: "I have been unhappy because of my drinking" or "I have felt guilty or ashamed because of my drinking." Survey results were compared to pre-pandemic and during the lockdown. There were also comparisons between race/ethnicity, age, and sex.

Dr. George Koob of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shared that it is of particular concern if increased alcohol consumption "from an attempt to cope with negative emotions associated with the crisis." It is tempting to consume alcohol in the middle of high-stress circumstances, he explained, since "alcohol temporarily dampens anxiety and other uncomfortable emotions."

The stress of the pandemic can also trigger former alcoholics to relapse. According to the WHO, nearly three million deaths worldwide are associated with alcohol consumption.

Read Also: Problematic Alcoholics Share 29 Distinct Genes That Explain Drinking Behaviors: Study

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