Stay Inside and Put the Bottle Aside
Loneliness. Isolation. COVID-19. Increased alcohol use. Increase in overdose deaths. How do these all go together? It can become a cycle, many older adults faced loneliness and isolation for a variety of reasons, and COVID-19 restrictions have increased these issues. Often self-medication for loneliness is alcohol. In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic alcohol sales rose 262% over the previous year.
The National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAA) states that more people may drink and people may drink more heavily to cope with stress, sleep disturbances, and even boredom increasing their risk for alcohol use disorder and other adverse consequences. Although alcohol temporarily dampens the brain and body’s response to stress, feelings of stress and anxiety not only return, but worsen, once the alcohol wears off.
Additional information from NIAA says, “Excessive alcohol consumption may not only influence COVID-19 susceptibility and severity, but the broad effects of the pandemic are also likely to lead to excessive alcohol consumption. We know from previous disasters, such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina that the stress of the events and anxiety about the future can increase drinking and exacerbate symptoms of alcohol use disorder. We also know that feeling socially isolated, a possible effect of physical distancing, can worsen symptoms of anxiety or depression, which may encourage more alcohol intake.”
So, what do we do? Check on your friends, find ways to socialize, even just an old-fashioned phone call. Letter writing has increased, especially across generations. Always remember that connecting is a two-way interaction, my least favorite phrase said to me “you never call” however you could call me too. Let’s connect in old-fashioned ways—telephone, letter writing or new technology—FaceTime, text messages, Zoom.
About the Grantee
The mission of the City of Garfield is to promote a safe and healthy community through collaborative partnerships committed to improving the health and wellness of all residents.