Alcohol use disorders are usually characterized by heavy alcohol use and loss of control over alcohol intake. People with an alcohol use disorder are at greater risk of COVID-19 not only because of the impact of alcohol on their health but also because they are more likely to experience homelessness or incarceration than other members of the population. Supportively, excessive chronic alcohol consumption reduces the body’s immunity and exposes the body to disease like COVID-19.
Following the ‘shelter in place order’ across the United States, one wonders the impact with regards to alcohol consumption. Reports have suggested an increased use among teenagers and adults as social media users are more likely to increase their alcohol use, finds new consumer research. Alcoholic beverage sales rose by 55% in late March, when many states and public health officials urged residents to stay at home, compared to sales in 2019. While the increase in sales could represent stockpiling for the sheltered weeks ahead, it also signals the potential for alcohol abuse. This is evidenced by 552 U.S. internet users ages 21 and above who self-identified as alcohol consumers and participated in a consumption online study. These were the major findings:
- Up to 47% of respondents say that their beer consumption had increased, followed by wine at 37%, and liquor at 30%.
- 33% of males reported that they are consuming more beer since COVID-19 lockdown vs. 19% of females.
- With regards to age distribution, 44% of consumers aged 21-29years say they are consuming more wine than usual.
In reality, we can attest that the consumption of alcohol is undeniable as evidenced by the story of a grandmother who requested more beer on social media and a beer company supplied her with some packs free of charge. Lol!!!
This suggests that the alcohol companies are also a major key to the puzzle of increased consumption as they are utilizing cheap goodwill publicity like that of the grandmother to manipulate the inert conscience of the public, via the social media platform. This in the end will boost alcohol sales in the long term. Another strategy used by companies to boost sales following the pandemic is through offerings of online happy hours, as this will ensure that people remain on social media platform longer than usual.
It is not surprising at these rising trends in alcohol consumption following COVID19 because almost the entire population are indoors and will lead to over reliance on social media outlets. In modern day society, this has turned out to be the new normal as everyday to day activity is heavily influenced by social media usage. There have been reports on the role of social media on alcohol consumption:
- About 54% of TikTok users reported consuming more beer as compared to 8% of those who don’t use any form of Social Media. Similarly, Instagram users are 4.3 times more likely to have increased consumption of liquor, 43% of Twitch users say they have participated in an online “Happy Hour” since being impacted by Coronavirus, as opposed to 1.4% of those who don’t use any form of Social Media.
In terms of gender, women are not left out of the equation as a recent study by the American Addiction Center revealed that about 36 % of men and 26 % of women said they’re drinking on the clock especially while working from home. This could be summarized as 1 in 3 Americans drinking alcohol while working from home during the current COVID-19 lockdown as reported by alcohol.org. It is therefore essential, under the current conditions, that people who need help because of their alcohol use get all the support they need. Conclusively, policy and advocacy online groups should consider utilizing the social media platform to re-educate the public on this silent menace.