Coronavirus pandemic: How it’s affecting alcohol use


(WEHT) – The coronavirus is affecting families across the country, and there’s worry that there will be long-lasting health impacts. Alcohol sales seem to be up during the pandemic. Eyewitness News Noah Alatza was joined by addiction expert Melissa Caldwell Engle to talk about the impact of the pandemic on alcohol use.


NOAH: The Coronavirus is affecting families across the country. And there’s worried that there will be long lasting health impacts alcohol sales seem to be up during the pandemic. Joining me now is addiction expert Melissa Caldwell engle. Thank you for joining us tonight, Melissa.
MELISSA: Absolutely.
NOAH: So first, have you seen an increase in alcohol abuse during the pandemic? And do you think that the stress of the pandemic is what’s causing people to continue to drink?
MELISSA: Yes, and yes, absolutely. And a lot of the built in pieces of all of this also, that goes counter to what is a healthy human being, like having contact with people spending time with people. So a lot of this, there’s some people that believe the opposite of addiction is connection. It’s not even about sobriety, as much as this is about connection. So when you lose your ability to connect with others, it taxes and stresses us.
NOAH: And Melissa, how much drinking is considered too much?
MELISSA: Well, different people would answer that different ways. But when you’re drinking starts to interfere with your ability to manage your daily life, if you find yourself needing more and more, to get the same effects. If you find yourself drinking, when you told yourself you wouldn’t, there’s kind of a list of criteria that you can go through. But those are kind of the basics. And if you continue to drink despite the negative consequences, that’s a problem that says there’s a problem with alcohol,
NOAH: as people are continuing to get out and about and and maybe delve into some more drinking? And what what have you? What do you have a reminder or warning maybe for people?
MELISSA: Yeah, I would just well, couple of things that happens when we have a national crisis. Because I’ve been through a couple of things. I mean, I was practicing after 911, what tends to happen is if we have any kind of painful experiences from our past that we have pushed down and suppressed, when we have a stage of emergency or a crisis, and this has gone on for so long, any of the feelings that have been suppressed or pushed down from your past will start to bubble up. And so people that have got a lot of struggles from their past have not dealt with, this is the time that starts to unfold. Now I understand that people are getting out more, but with that brings some of its fears as well, because there’s a lot of mixed feelings about people going out more and more. And you’re still we’re still following the news and hearing about the COVID cases. So I really encourage people not to live in a state of fear. And if you notice that you have struggles with depression or anxiety, in addition to your panic about the COVID, that you talk to someone that you reach out to someone because sometimes COVID is just kind of what takes the lid off of a lot of stuff that has been suppressed in the past. And you need to work through these things. And how can friends and family spot alcohol abuse? Oh, you could I mean, if you can see differences in their behavior. And I mean, obviously, if you can see it, their neighbor united. And but you quite often with alcohol dependence, you’ll see other behaviors that happen as well, like isolation. There’s responsibilities and obligations that continue to slip through the cracks that they’re not people aren’t able to manage. So you’ll start to see other areas, unfortunately, in their last start to spin out of control. And Melissa, maybe what are some good resources for people who maybe are struggling with heavy drinking? Well, I would say don’t wait till it’s heavy. If you notice that you’re drinking more or and you don’t usually didn’t used to drink as much you’re drinking more than you used to drink. If you notice that your anxiety Are you having a hard time sleeping or you’re struggling with more depression or negative dark thoughts. telehealth right now is so available. I mean, you could just Google therapists in your area. So it’s easier now than it’s ever been. And if you’re someone that’s struggling, and you’ve been drinking quite a bit where there’s some physical dependency, I mean, the proper the proper course of action would be to get yourself into a detox facility. Look at coming to a facility like healing Springs Ranch where we help people we’re a residential facility for drugs and alcohol. And we can come in and be in an environment where you won’t have access to alcohol, and you’ll be able to do some counseling and have a supportive group to help you kind of break this pattern that you’ve gotten yourself into. So I would just encourage people to start with telehealth, it’s so readily available right now.
NOAH: Some very good inside tonight Melissa Caldwell engle. Thank you so much.
MELISSA: Sure. Thank you.

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(This story was originally published on September 20, 2020)

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