Author: James Anderson

Drinking Alcohol with COVID-19: Tips for Use, Safety, Risks

alcohol and covid

Even with the expansion of virtual treatment and online support services, there will be many individuals unable to use these services or in need of a higher level of care. Inpatient and other detoxification programs will need to balance capacity for providing in-person services with safety practices to reduce spread of COVID-19 infection. Ensuring adequate insurance for treatment will be essential with the added concern that many individuals will lose their employer-based health insurance and access to addiction treatment insured by state Medicaid programs varies widely. Because of substantial and unexpected social and economic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people turned to alcohol and other drugs to cope with those stressors. Unfortunately, the pandemic also made accessing substance use disorder treatment more difficult. This research suggests that these issues are reflected in deaths related to alcohol use.

alcohol and covid

The increase reported for most participants translates into consuming an extra drink daily within a month [36]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines excessive alcohol use as binge drinking, heavy drinking, alcohol use by people under the minimum legal drinking age, and alcohol use by pregnant women. AUD is a clinical diagnosis that indicates someone’s drinking is causing distress and harm. AUD can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Severe illness, grief, isolation, disrupted schooling, job loss, economic hardship, shortages of food and supplies, mental health problems, and limited access to health care — these are just some of the sources of stress people faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The danger is even greater for those diagnosed with psychological or psychiatric pathologies, as often the concomitant administration of psychotropic medication and alcohol is contraindicated [34]. Coronaviruses (CoVs) are a large family of viruses that can infect both humans and animals [1]. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory infections, which can range from a common cold to severe conditions, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) [2]. COVID-19 was first identified in late 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in China, in patients who developed pneumonia without being able to establish a clear cause [4].

COVID-19 Topics

This article will discuss the myths and facts about alcohol use and COVID-19. It will also explain how alcohol consumption affects mental health and discuss some ways to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety. One of these topics is related to the way in which parental drinking is influencing the next generations. During the lockdown, the children were more likely to see their parents drinking, due to the time spent together at home. Parental model regarding the drinking behaviors can play a major role in the intergenerational transmission of excessive alcohol consumption [79]. In Europe, evidence showing an increased alcohol consumption, emerged during the second half of 2020 and early 2021.

alcohol and covid

In the United Kingdom, a cross-sectional study performed on 691 adults, showed that 17 % of them reported increased alcohol consumption during the lockdown, with a higher proportion in younger subjects (18–34 years). There was a significant association between increased alcohol consumption and poor overall mental health, depressive symptoms, and lower mental wellbeing [38]. Therefore, consumption should be moderate in general, and especially during the pandemic [24]. In contrast, Nielsen IQ reported [25] a 477 % increase in online alcohol sales by end of April 2020.

Short- and long-term alcohol consumption during COVID- 19

According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, out of 201 people with COVID-19-induced pneumonia, 41.8% developed ARDS. It is possible for high concentrations of alcohol, such as 60–90%, to kill some forms of bacteria and viruses. Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Future research can focus on addressing the mental health needs of people with alcoholism or substance use disorders and people prone to it, especially during very stressful events. Many people struggled with their mental health during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, behaviors like alcohol consumption increased during that time. However, researchers found that drinking returned to pre-pandemic levels by June 2021. The interconnection between alcohol dependence and depression is based on a circular etiopathogenic process, the two diseases worsening each other. For example, women with depressive disorders are more prone to excessive alcohol consumption by internalizing symptoms, a situation favored by social isolation.

Facing the COVID-19 (new coronavirus disease) pandemic, countries must take decisive action to stop the spread of the virus. Facing the COVID-19 (new coronavirus disease) pandemic, the countriesof the world must take decisive action to stop the spread of the virus.In these… The immune system is a complex set of organs, structures and molecules (such as humoral factors, signal molecules and immunoglobulins), lymphatic vessels and white blood cells are its most important components [49].

According to a 2015 article in the journal Alcohol Research, alcohol can prevent immune cells from working properly. It can also cause inflammation to occur, further weakening the immune system. There are a variety of myths regarding alcohol consumption and SARS-CoV-2.

Social stressors include social isolation, unemployment, frontline work such as in a hospital, working from home, management of children’s schooling, as well as loss of loved ones, constrained financial resources and/or emotional and social support. Alcohol-related disorders are a major social problem especially during the COVID-19 pandemic [27]. That said, COVID-19 is distinct from other catastrophic events because of the extensive population exposure to ongoing trauma. The mortality rate from COVID-19 has already resulted in large numbers of Americans experiencing loss and grief. There is also widespread social disruption and isolation, while at the same time, social support and access to medical care have been delayed or limited due to stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 restrictions. This pandemic comes with severe domestic and global negative economic impacts and the length and scope of the pandemic are greater than we have seen with natural disasters and terrorist attacks, leading to prolonged stress and uncertainty.

We hope that the high rates of alcohol use and negative health effects will decline over time as we return to more typical interactions with each other. For example, some research suggests that poor sleep can make long COVID worse, and difficulty sleeping is a common side effect of drinking alcohol. According to the false information circulated recently, the ingestion of alcohol would have helped to destroy the SARS-CoV-2 virus. There is no medical basis to support this fact, on the contrary, alcohol abuse weakens the body’s protection against viral respiratory infections [78]. In Eastern Europe, a research project implemented in Poland has shown an increase in alcohol consumption in 146%, with a higher tendency to drink more found among the subjects with previous alcohol addiction [42].

  1. It can also interact with several common medications, such as ibuprofen, to cause further symptoms.
  2. NIAAA Director, Dr. George Koob, discusses what we know about how alcohol affects our immune and stress systems, along with issues related to treatment access during the pandemic.
  3. Going “cold turkey” when you have a physical dependence on alcohol can be dangerous.
  4. Considering the evidence of increased alcohol consumption in women during the pandemic, the pandemic duration and the risks of unintended pregnancies, the odds of increased rates of FASD in the future are high.
  5. It was really no surprise that during the first year of the pandemic, alcohol sales jumped by nearly 3%, the largest increase in more than 50 years.

The incidence of alcohol-related death was then compared with all other causes of death during that period of time. If you are a healthcare provider, learn how to help patients or clients who need help with an alcohol problem during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every family across the country, and alcohol misuse is complicating the situation in multiple ways. Although some people turn to alcohol, there are many other ways of coping with feelings of depression and anxiety.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

There are no specific treatments for COVID-19 infection yet, although many candidate therapies are being evaluated in clinical trials [[5], [6], [7], [8]] and several COVID-19 vaccines are approved or under evaluation for approval by authorities [[9], [10], [11]]. Initially, social distancing, along with increasing population testing, are the only effective measures to control the pandemic but with several consequences on long-term [[12], [13], [14]]. Public health measures include non-pharmacological interventions that can be used to reduce and delay community transmission [4].

For clinicians: helping patients access treatment during the pandemic

There’s no consensus on whether alcohol affects the antiviral medications used to treat COVID-19. You can take a couple of steps to avoid contracting or transmitting the COVID-19 virus while drinking. Alcohol can cause digestive upset, difficulty sleeping, trouble with concentration, and other unpleasant side effects that may worsen your symptoms. If you don’t have a physical dependency on alcohol, and you drink lightly or moderately, consider stopping while you have COVID-19.

Most often, adults who drink alcohol constantly justify consumption by claiming reducing mental stress, maintaining a state of physical and mental relaxation, but also improving their social behavior [32]. However, due to the action of ethanol on the central nervous system, at high doses of alcohol, there is an inhibitory effect that involves reduced discernment and weakened attention and memory [33]. Thus, it becomes a risk factor for altering behavior and decision-making.