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The Perils of Day Drinking

Silver Hill Hospital

There are times in our lives where having a drink during the day is a part of the festivities—a mimosa with brunch, beers with friends while watching sports, a drink after a round of golf, a wedding, or another momentous occasion, to name a few. Day drinking, popularized in songs by Little Big Town and Pitbull, and in countless social media videos and memes, has become an event all its own. But what happens when social events—and life as we knew it—are paused because of COVID-19 restrictions?

Drinking Takes Off During COVID-19

Recent data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that sales of alcohol are up as much at 29% over previous years, with sales of higher-content alcohol accounting for more of the overall total. According to Dr. Amir Garakani, Director of Education at Silver Hill Hospital, “Given the high level of stressors around COVID-19—including lockdowns, financial strains, loss of work, and intense social isolation for some—it is not surprising that there has been an increase in alcohol use and problematic drinking, especially among the most vulnerable individuals.”

Just as some of us are buying more toilet paper and hand sanitizers, some of us are also keeping an eye on our stock of alcohol to make sure there is always an ample supply. And now, home delivery of alcohol—a booming business during this pandemic—makes it even easier.

Nowhere to Go

Because of social distancing restrictions, so much of our lives have come to revolve around our home and those we live with. Isolated from the outside world, we are using our homes for work and play, exercise and school—and the days have taken on a new, more flexible daily structure. With nowhere to go and the restless monotony and stress of life right now, you may notice that you are imbibing more often, and at times, earlier in the day. We know that parents, and working moms in particular, are having a difficult time juggling their children’s schooling with the ever-changing flux between days in school and remote learning, caring for elderly parents, and taking care of themselves. This seemingly never-ending orchestration of work from home, child care and education—and the need to be more and more inventive to fill our time at home— along with a general uncertainty of what the future holds, has more of us looking for that escape. And for some, that escape is drinking.

Drinking More and More Often

The daily structure once provided by school and work has given way to a more fluid day, for months on end, with few outlets for interaction with friends, colleagues, and the world in general. And for some, the idea of having a drink to break up the monotony, or relieve the stress, couldn’t sound better. Why not? We’re safe at home; no reason to wait for that social gathering that’s now off in the indeterminate future. Before you know it, you may be drinking earlier in the day, and on more days than not.

Moderate Drinking May Be Less Than You Think

Moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink per day for women, and up to two drinks per day for men. Heavy drinking is defined as eight or more drinks in a week for women, and fifteen or more drinks in a week for men. Binge drinking means drinking enough to bring the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent or higher. For women, this typically involves about four drinks, and for men, about five drinks, in a relatively short period of time—approximately two hours. The more drinks you have on any given day, and the more heavy drinking you do over time, the more your risk of developing alcohol use disorder increases.

Are You Now Drinking Too Much?

If you have the feeling that you are drinking too much, here are some warning signs:

  • Do you have a strong urge or craving to drink? 
  • Are you drinking more than you intended?
  • Are you drinking while you work, or while taking care of your children?
  • Are you drinking alone?
  • Do you want to drink more than those around you?
  • Do you feel the need to conceal how much you are drinking from those around you?
  • Do you have feelings of regret about what you said or did while drinking?
  • Do you drink to get drunk?
  • Are you drinking earlier in the day?
  • Are you drinking more days than not?
  • Are you waking up hung over?
  • Have you tried to cut back or not drink on certain days but failed?

What to Do if You Think You Might Be Drinking Too Much

If you think you are drinking too much, taking action to get help can improve your life and the lives of those you love. Make an appointment with your doctor (or psychiatrist or therapist if you have one) to discuss your concerns. They can recommend resources for getting help to support you in your recovery. 

It’s Never Too Early (or Too Late) to Stop Drinking

You may feel that drinking is just part of who you are and the life you live. Did you know that excessive drinking sets you up for a long list of health issues including cancers and heart disease, and alcohol dependence? Interestingly, COVID-19 has given rise to more ways to get help to stop drinking—from Telemed appointments and evaluations with doctors and therapists, to virtual support meetings—from home. So, this could be an ideal time for you to stop drinking. No outside temptations. No social obligations where you might feel tempted to drink. People are seeking help to get sober and stay sober during COVID-19.

If you choose to investigate your options for getting sober, it might just be the best thing ever to come out of this unprecedented period of social distancing.