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Are men drinking more during Covid-19?

So it seems. Men are indeed drinking more as the pandemic has disrupted their day-to-day activities. Along with factors like job losses, social strife, and disruption of work-life balance, the pandemic has hit men hard. This stress, anger and anguish has resulted in the development of addictive tendencies such as heavy drinking and substance abuse. While heavy drinking was a concern earlier, the pandemic has aggravated the phenomenon.

With studies coming up with new revelations about the long-term impact of heavy drinking, there has been pressure on the government to reduce the recommended alcohol limit by half. While a lot of countries across the world have implemented this policy, the U.S. government did not pay heed to it for many years.

However, in light of the new recommendations of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the government has finally decided to take action. While the current daily alcohol limit for men is two drinks, the committee has suggested changing that to no more than one drink a day.

Speaking about the tendency of Americans to drink heavily, Dr. .J. Craig Allen, vice president of addiction services for the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, says, “Alcohol use driven by marketing and cultural acceptance, always seems to increase during stressful times but what starts as a solution often ends as being part of the problem itself.”

No amount of alcohol is safe

While the committee recommends a drink a day, experts are of the opinion that no amount of alcohol is safe. Alcohol triggers an addictive response in the brain and soon there is a craving for more, leading to dependence.

According to the new dietary guidelines, if an individual limits himself to one drink a day, it decreases the risks of developing alcohol-related problems significantly. Limiting alcohol consumption not only reduces the risks of hypertension, heart problems, cancer and liver dysfunction, and a host of psychological problems, but also lowers mortality rates.

The report also stated that alcohol consumption is the second-leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States and therefore ideally should be zero.

In the United States, where the standard size of an alcoholic drink is more compared to European countries, this is a grave concern and limiting consumption seems like a good idea. A standard American drink size is equivalent to:

  • 12 fluid ounces of 5 percent alcohol-by-volume beer
  • 5 fluid ounces of 12 percent ABV wine
  • 5 fluid ounces (a typical shot) of 40 percent ABV (80 proof) distilled spirits

Staying sober during Covid-19

While alcohol does seem like a good way to kill time and ward off boredom during the forced isolation, it is a harbinger of many physical ailments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Hospitalizations and alcohol-related deaths are higher in men than women.
  • Reports indicate that men are more likely to be intoxicated than women (blood alcohol concentration higher than 0.08%) at the time of a fatal motor vehicle crash.
  • Men are more likely to show signs of aggression. Risks of physical and sexual assault increase significantly when men are drunk. Men are more likely to engage in activities that are detrimental to others such as domestic abuse after a binge drinking session.
  • They are also more likely to commit suicide. Studies have proven that more men than women had been drinking prior to their suicide.

If someone is a recovering alcoholic, it is better to refrain from liquor, as there are higher risks of giving in to the temptation when in isolation. So, here’s a list of what one could do, which is applicable even for those who have no prior history of alcoholism or alcohol-related disorders.

  • Watch what you drink. Observe the guidelines.
  • Watch when you drink. When you start craving for a drink early in the morning, it is a sign of trouble.
  • Do not drink alone, as then you tend to drink more.
  • Keep yourself and your brain occupied in daily activities. Keep a pet, walk your dog, have an online conversation with all those close to you.
  • Try to not allow the pressure of daily work obligations get to you.
  • Have a daily schedule, empty a closet, clean the house, read a book, listen to some music, or hang out with friends online. Keep yourself busy.
  • Keep a close watch on the signs of alcohol abuse like craving for a drink at odd hours of the day.
  • And lastly, stay happy, as that is the best way to beat the blues and avoid alcohol craving.

Seeking help for alcohol misuse

Excessive intake of alcohol is linked with various health complications, including heart trouble and cancers of the colon, liver and breast. As per the statistics presented by the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 140 million Americans were current users of alcohol.

Alcohol abuse affects a person both physically and mentally. It has several short- and long-term consequences that are borne not only by the individual drinking, but also by his or her loved ones. Identifying the symptoms early on and seeking prompt medical advice can help manage the symptoms and treat the disorder.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD), get in touch with the 24/7 Recovery Helpline. Being a repository of resources on alcohol addiction, we can help you connect with certified alcohol detox treatment centers. You can either call our 24/7 alcohol addiction helpline 855-441-4405 or chat online with a representative for further assistance.

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