Coronavirus and Alcohol Abuse: Relapse vs. Recovery
Alcohol abuse can be an issue for many people amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic, due to job loss and the stay-at-home orders which are in place. You may never have experienced issues with alcohol abuse, but notice that your alcohol consumption has been increasing – perhaps you’re drinking every day, starting to drink earlier in the day, switching from beer to wine to hard liquor – all of which are signs of alcohol abuse. Or, you may be an alcoholic who has many years of sobriety, finding yourself “thinking about drinking” – and then acting on those thoughts, going into a relapse. In many ways, the impacts of the coronavirus are a “perfect storm” for alcohol abuse:
- you feel anxious about everything going on;
- you don’t want to experience those uncomfortable emotions;
- you rationalize that drinking can temporarily “numb” unpleasantries;
- you don’t have to report to work so you can drink as much as you want;
- you justify that drinking will be a “fun” way to cope;
- you don’t have to worry about a DUI because you’re staying at home;
- you might live alone and not have to be accountable to anyone;
- you can be enabled by drinking with others via video conference;
- you have alcohol delivered along with your food which makes it oh-so-easy;
- you figure that “no one will know” if you relapse…
- what are the reasons YOU may be drinking right now?
On a personal note – I want to share why I’m especially concerned about the coronavirus and alcohol abuse. During this challenging time, my brief “addiction” was watching TikTok videos. Watching these short video clips on a variety of topics took my mind away from the severity of the Coronavirus Pandemic, and temporarily gave me something to laugh about. However, I began to notice that many of these videos had alcohol as a theme: coronavirus drink recipes (using the beer Corona mixed with other ingredients), “Bored in the House” drinking games (featuring the song of that title by Curtis Roach, played in the background of the video), making fun of oneself while drinking (to excess, which is alcohol abuse). These subjects may be funny to some, but to me, it’s no laughing matter. That’s because I’m a Licensed Addiction Counselor, and in addition to the treatment of eating disorders, I also provide counseling for people who abuse alcohol (the clinical term is, Alcohol Use Disorder).
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, so this is another reason that I’m writing about the topic of coronavirus and alcohol abuse in this article. There are many reasons why people develop Alcohol Use Disorders, including past traumas, current stressors, and genetic factors. The stress associated with the current Coronavirus Pandemic can be extreme, as people are losing jobs, losing money, and losing their lives. The bullet point list in the first paragraph described many possible triggers for alcohol abuse. How do you know if you’ve “crossed the line” from being a social drinker to an alcohol abuser? My simple answer is, if you’re concerned about that, then you probably have. For a definitive answer, consult with a Licensed Addiction Counselor, or similar type of mental health professional. Amidst the coronavirus, many counseling offices are open (as long as social distancing can be maintained while meeting in person). Other options include telehealth (sessions conducted by phone or video conference).
Although coronavirus issues can lead to alcohol abuse, this time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders can also be an opportunity for recovery. Here are a few recovery tips:
- find friends who will commit to staying “Corona-free” for the rest of this month, and keep each other accountable – you can tell your friends you want to stay alcohol-free for “health reasons” if you’re not ready to share your concerns about alcohol abuse;
- create structure in your day, especially if you don’t have a job – try to wake at the same time, start the day with something positive (instead of checking the latest news), plan breaks for healthy meals, connect with your family and friends (even if it’s virtual);
- make a list of different activities that you can do as a means of coping – consider the 5R’s (from Dr. Dorie’ method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy, or EDIT™ which has applications for all types of addiction):
- Responsibility – clean your counters (again), do laundry, walk the dog, just do it!
- Recreation – play a game (NOT a drinking game), play with your dog, just for fun!
- Relaxation – read a book, watch a movie, take a bath, listen to music, meditate, just be!
- Reward – download some new music, make a small purchase online, just a little treat!
- Recovery – write in a journal, make a gratitude list, read recovery blogs, just for you!
- join online support groups (many 12-Step Groups have online options, search for Alcoholics Anonymous) – if you struggle with alcohol abuse AND eating disorders, you are welcome to join the online group hosted by Dr. Dorie every Monday evening. CLICK FOR INFO
Alcohol abuse, eating disorders and other addictions happen in ISOLATION – recovery happens in CONNECTION. Let’s stay connected!
Article may be reprinted with the author bio below.
©2020 by Dr. Dorie McCubbrey. Dr. Dorie is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Licensed Addiction Counselor who is passionate about training professionals to effectively guide clients in recovery from eating disorders. She is the President of the EDIT™ Training Institute LLC, which provides training and certification in her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™. She also provides sessions for clients who struggle with these issues, either in person or by phone. Learn more at: https://www.drdorie.com
Want more that this “taste” of EDIT™? Dr. Dorie is passionate about her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ to help people overcome eating disorders and addictions. She provides customized programs for people in recovery from eating disorders and who struggle with weight issues, and EDIT™ eating disorder training and certification for coaches and clinicians worldwide. CALL 303-494-1975 – EMAIL DR. DORIE – GET CERTIFIED