What Can We Expect?

According to Barefoot Contessa food mogul Ina Garten, “It’s always cocktail hour in a crisis!”, as she consumes her super-sized cosmos and posting on Instagram. [1]

Ladies and gentlemen, we are definitely experiencing a crisis now, however, is it coronavirus, alcohol consumption, or a mixture of both? Since this coronavirus pandemic began, there has been a great increase in alcohol sales and consumption in this time of self-quarantine and the provided stay-at-home orders. Alcohol has been the go to item during this pandemic as most people have switched to working at home, and finding that they can drink at the end of their work day, and not have to worry about catching an uber ride home and waking up early to journey to work the next day. Drinking during the day now does not seem as inappropriate as it did to most people when their schedules were so rigid and tight.  In lieu of this pandemic, alcohol sales have jumped from 25 to 55%, and this seems to be attributed to people wanting to take this opportunity to relax and enjoy their time at home, however, it can also be seen as a factor of stress that some people are under due to the toll of the virus on their daily lives. [1] Those that never used to drink in the past, have started seeing a new pattern where they now have either three to four beers or glasses of wine a day to pass time or to drown their stressors out. Will people keep up this habit even when the pandemic is over? Will working from home become something that most companies realize can be done permanently, therefore allowing people to drink more? This is what we as the general public have to worry about when it comes to asking the question, “What’s next?”

While we know and understand that heavy and binge drinking are dangerous for our health, will the effects of the quarantine lead people to struggle with alcohol use disorders that will outlast the pandemic’s timeline and become destructive in the future?  According to Dr. Sarah Wakeman, an addiction doctor in Boston, “I expect that we’re going to see pretty significant increases in what I call unhealthy alcohol use, which means drinking above recommended limits, however, I would see this as a risk more in people who are already drinking and then their alcohol use escalates” [2] 

There are multiple examples of quarantine leading people towards  path of alcohol use and abuse during this time of the pandemic, and most can see that it was a problem that they did not have in the past, but could see this problem being exacerbated, and leading them to having a problem that lasts even longer than quarantine. In an article by Maria Cramer, several women were interviewed, talking about their experiences with alcohol while in quarantine as a result of the seemingly unending pandemic. These women seem to have taken to alcohol to fill their time during isolation, however, were able to catch themselves on the way to a detrimental path of alcohol abuse. One of the interviewees is a novelist in England who states that she had been thinking about cutting back on her alcohol intake before the pandemic began, but once the stay-at-home orders were put in place she began to have three to four drinks a night, increasing her alcohol use and leading her down a path to alcohol abuse. She then noticed her behavior and began on a sobriety journey. An opera singer in Philadelphia expressed that she normally drinks wine but due to isolation has been experimenting with cocktail recipes and gin. She notes that drinking has been a salve during this difficult time, and also notes that since nothing else is under her control, the least she can do is make a cocktail. [2] This is a very serious issue in which we must figure out how to reach the people who feel as if the rest of the world is collapsing and they cannot do anything else but drink to curb their feelings.

In this time of need, influence and positive media outlets are most definitely the key to be able to help all of those who have been seriously affected by this pandemic and have felt the need to indulge in excessive alcohol use. Through supportive commercials and limited alcoholic ads, providing helpful and healthy tips that do not require alcohol can also be very helpful in our fight to reduce the prevalence of those who have developed alcohol use patterns during this pandemic and are in danger of keeping these patterns long term. Another suggestion in this time of need would be to possibly limit how much alcohol people are purchasing at a time, and although it does not stop them from coming back and purchasing more, it could help in allowing them to be able to think about the choices that they are making and also help them to understand that these provisions were put into place for their health and well-being. Participating in these regulations, while also monitoring how often and how often one is drinking can help to lessen the number of people who might be affected by this pandemic through alcoholic use.

It is important that we as public health advocates express to the public the importance of protecting themselves from alcoholic use both during this pandemic and for after the pandemic has subsided as well. Alcoholic use and abuse can lead to several different health factors that can affect the quality of one’s life through several health issues and can weaken one’s immune system enough to where they could become more susceptible to COVID-19. Other health issues that can occur are high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems, as well as damage to the heart muscles which can affect women at higher rates, at lower alcohol levels, as well as cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, colon, and breast which are higher in women as well. [3] It is important to be able to get this situation under control now and while we are in quarantine so that we do not have additional health issues to worry about in the long run once the pandemic is over, due to alcohol use and abuse. Hopefully, once this is all over, we will all come out happy and healthy and ready to adapt to the new norm.

Stay safe and thank you for reading!



  1. Dewey, C. (2020, April 27). ‘Quarantinis’ and beer chugs: Is the pandemic driving us to drink? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/27/coronavirus-pandemic-drinking-alcohol
  2. Cramer, M. (2020, May 26). Could All Those ‘Quarantinis’ Lead to Drinking Problems? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/health/coronavirus-alcohol-addiction.html
  3. Polakovic, G. (2020, April 15). Pandemic drives alcohol sales – and raises concerns about substance abuse. Retrieved from https://news.usc.edu/168549/covid-19-alcohol-sales-abuse-stress-relapse-usc-experts/

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