Coronavirus Consequences
The Effect of COVID-19 on Alcohol Abuse Rates

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every individual in the U.S. in one capacity or another. Some people have lost their jobs, either temporarily or permanently, leading to financial insecurity and a sense of uncertainty regarding the future. Some people have fallen ill — some of those people have recovered in full, others weren’t so lucky. Many major organizations including the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism state the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on public health, well-being and overall quality of life. Unfortunately, in an attempt to cope with unanticipated changes and extremely high stress-levels, many Americans have reached for chemical substances like alcohol.

Alcohol Abuse & COVID-19

Alcohol use has been a major public health concern across the country for decades; since the pandemic first hit U.S. soil, rates of alcohol abuse and alcoholism have reached unprecedented highs. A recent article titled, “Changes in Adult Alcohol Use and Consequences During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the U.S.” reports a 54 percent increase in alcohol sales for the week ending March 21, 2020, a 262 percent increase from the year prior. The article reports that alcohol consumption has increased among members of every demographic.

At Guardian IOP we have witnessed the devastation caused by the pandemic. We have seen people with years of sobriety return to drinking; we have seen countless new cases of alcohol abuse over the course of the past year. If you or someone you love has been struggling with alcohol abuse or dependence, we are available to help. Our intensive outpatient treatment program focuses on providing clients with the healthy coping mechanisms they need to successfully navigate COVID-19-related stressors without relying on alcohol or other chemical substances. Contact us today to learn more.

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Alcoholism in the U.S.

Excessive alcohol consumption is not a new issue. However, it is an issue that has gotten significantly more severe since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to NIAAA, 85.6 percent of Americans admit to drinking alcohol at least once over the course of their lives. In 2019, 25.8 percent of people over the age of 18 admitted to binge drinking at least once over the course of the past month. Binge drinking refers to a pattern of alcohol consumption which involves drinking five or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting for men, or four or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting for women.

The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health determined roughly 14.5 million Americans over the age of 12 suffered from a diagnosable alcohol use disorder. However, only about 7.2 percent of those who struggled with alcoholism sought professional treatment. The amount of people struggling with alcoholism has always been disproportionate to the amount of people seeking treatment, and the pandemic has only made seeking professional care more difficult. The good news is recovery resources are readily available throughout the country.

At Guardian IOP we have developed an alcohol addiction treatment program geared towards helping people of all ages and in all demographics overcome alcohol dependence and go on to lead the healthy and fulfilling lives they deserve. We offer flexible and effective treatment options which consistently take the unique needs of each individual client into careful account. To learn more about our integrated treatment program, contact us today.

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The Pandemic’s Correlation with Alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption poses a unique set of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ways in which the pandemic has affected alcohol consumption and alcoholism in the U.S. (and vice versa) are:

COVID and alcoholism rates
  • More people throughout the country are turning to alcohol as a way to cope with COVID-related stressors – People are drinking excessively to combat stress, sleep issues, boredom and general feelings of uncertainty. Alcohol might temporarily relieve stress, but as soon as the drunk wears off, feelings of anxiety are only going to be exacerbated. If a person uses alcohol as a coping mechanism for a prolonged period of time the brain begins to adapt, and eventually becomes unable to cope with stress on its own.
  • Mandatory social distancing protocols have made it more difficult for people who are currently in recovery for alcoholism to continue with their personal recovery programs – In-person recovery meetings were largely put on hold or moved to virtual venues, and meeting with therapeutic groups became far more difficult. Social support is a crucial component of relapse prevention, and adapting to a shift from in-person to virtual and online has proven difficult for many. At Guardian IOP we focus on teaching our clients how to successfully avoid relapse regardless of their current circumstances.
  • Alcohol consumption significantly affects the immune system – People who drink heavily and regularly have been found to suffer from impaired immune system function and a greater susceptibility to illness, including respiratory problems. People who struggle with alcoholism are more likely to contract COVID-19 and more likely to experience severe symptoms. This is part of the reason why overcoming alcohol abuse and dependence sooner rather than later is extremely important.
  • The pandemic has been linked to worsening mental health symptoms, and mental health and alcoholism frequently go hand-in-hand – Social isolation has shown to increase symptoms associated with anxiety and depression, for example. At Guardian IOP we offer dual diagnosis treatment options for people struggling with alcoholism and mental health concerns.

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About Our IOP Program

Guardian IOP has three locations; we have one IOP program in Southern Florida and two in New Jersey. Our IOP programs focus on providing flexible clinical care, catering to the pre-existing obligations of each individual client while consistently delivering effective treatment in a safe and supportive environment. Our IOP program takes place in three distinct stages: the evaluation stage, the treatment stage and the support stage.

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At Guardian IOP we believe that effective alcohol addiction treatment options should be readily available to those in need. Our intensive outpatient program combines medication assisted treatment with behavioral therapies, holistic approaches to recovery and intensive relapse prevention training, ultimately providing clients with the tools they need to stay sober for years to come. We understand how overwhelming this time has been for everyone, and we know adding excessive alcohol consumption to the mix only exacerbates existing challenges.

The good news is, with a solid recovery program in place you or your loved one will be able to overcome all symptoms associated with alcoholism and go on to lead a healthy, happy and productive life. All you have to do is make the decision to embrace positive change and make initial contact. Once you contact us through our website or over the phone we set to work developing an admissions plan. During our initial conversation we conduct a brief pre-assessment to confirm our IOP program is the best fit for you and your unique set of clinical requirements. If we believe our program is an ideal match we offer a free, no obligation insurance benefit check and smooth out the remainder of the fine details. Contact us today to get started.

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Reviewed for accuracy by:

Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.