In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, people have been panic-buying more than just toilet paper and eggs. US alcohol sales spiked 55% in the week ending 21 March, according to data from market research firm Nielsen. Online alcohol sales were up 243%.
Much of that can probably be attributed to stocking up on booze for several weeks’ worth of self-isolation. According to a survey by Alcohol.org, 1 in 5 respondents said they stockpiled alcohol for just that reason. However, many people are also drinking more in general: 1 in 3 respondents said they are likely to increase alcohol consumption in isolation.
While a few extra drinks to get you through the stress and boredom of being stuck at home might not be a big deal, it can become a slippery slope.
How much drinking is considered normal?
According to the Dietary Guidelines, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Keep in mind that these guidelines refer to the amount you drink on any single day ― it’s not meant to be an average of drinks consumed over several days.
However, these are just guidelines; what’s considered “normal” drinking is somewhat subjective and based on your own body and behaviours. “If you don’t have a problem with alcohol, an extra glass of wine here and there isn’t something to be worried about,” said Brian Wind, chief clinical officer at alcohol and drug treatment centre JourneyPure. “People are bored, stuck in their homes and really stressed out. For some, kicking back with a drink is perfectly normal.”
It’s when your habits and thoughts surrounding alcohol begin to change for the worse that you should be concerned. Unhealthy alcohol use exists on a spectrum, which can range from alcohol misuse to abuse to dependency, according to Sari Eitches, an integrative internist who practices in Los Angeles.
“During the challenges of the looming threat of the pandemic, plus the stresses of lockdown, we are naturally turning to any coping skills we…