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From social distancing to mandatory quarantines and stay-at-home orders, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyday life in many ways. The pandemic has also caused an increase in the country’s overall alcohol consumption. Since March, alcohol sales have increased 55%; online alcohol orders have increased 243%.
“It is no secret that coronavirus and stay-at-home orders have caused people to become stressed and irritable,” said David Moore, R.N., M.S.N., BC, Executive Director of Mental Health Services for Inspira Health. “What people need to understand is that indulging in an excessive amount of alcohol will do more harm than good.”
The Effects of Alcohol on the Body
How alcohol metabolizes in your body depends on a variety of factors, primarily your gender, age and weight. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guides for Americans notes that men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one drink per day.
“Many people use alcohol as a stress reliever or a way to escape daily tension,” said Moore. “But, it is important to understand the harmful consequences excessive alcohol consumption brings with it.”
While unhealthy drinking habits can lead to negative long-term effects on the body, such as liver disease, pancreatitis and heart health issues, it also impacts an important part of the body we rely on heavily—the immune system. By consuming more than the recommended amount of alcohol, a person's immune system can be compromised, thus reducing their ability to fight off infections.
Importantly, the World Health Organization noted that alcohol does not protect you against contracting, or fighting, the coronavirus. And while it is not necessary to give up alcohol entirely, it remains important to drink responsibly.
Drinking Responsibly in Response to COVID-19
“Responsible drinking goes beyond staying within the recommended drinking limits,” said Moore. “It also means being aware of how much alcohol you consume in any given sitting, and having the ability to control your drinking patterns.”
Here are some easy steps you can take to ensure you are practicing responsible drinking:
- Understand how much alcohol your body can handle
- Set personal drinking limits
- Recognize when and why you are looking to drink
Simply, drinking within the recommended alcohol consumption guidelines decreases your risk of alcohol-related impairment.
While these guidelines can help set a foundation for responsible drinking, it is also important to impose personal limits as well. Omitting drinking from your diet completely might be a drastic change, but just decreasing the number of drinks you consume daily can deter short and long-term physiological effects.
Inspira Health offers counseling services at multiple locations in Southern New Jersey as well as an acute inpatient medical detoxification center in Bridgeton. And, we now offer virtual visits for some behavioral health services. To make an appointment call 1-800-INSPIRA or request an appointment online.