Alcohol Abuse as a coping mechanism in the Pandemic

Did the Social Isolation during the Pandemic increase the use and abuse of Alcohol in the USA?

In a recent article of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Rita Rubin stated that the generalized decision to keep the liquor stores open in the USA during the worst period of the pandemic (wrongly considered as “essential businesses”) had the unintended but grave effect of increasing its use and abuse by many segments of our society. She said: “…the immediate effects of alcohol abuse patterns have been increases in alcohol-related emergencies such as alcohol withdrawal, withdrawal-related suicides, methanol toxicity, and alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes.”

Moreover, the abuse of Alcohol might have worsened the clinical symptoms of the patients infected with Covid-19 because the virus impairs the normal immune defenses of the Respiratory System. an effect that the medical personnel treating the 1918 Influenza pandemic had already observed.

Note. This reproduction of Edouard Manet’s Un bar Aux Folies Bergères was taken from Wikimedia Commons.  

By Édouard Manet – Un bar aux Folies-Bergère d'E. Manet (Fondation Vuitton, Paris), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83676367

If women often have borne the greatest brunt of the social and economic consequences of the dire Social Isolation and changes in the work/study parameters of their homes, did they abuse it too? We do not have yet a much needed segmentation of the data in a published paper, but we guess they did. As the dynamics of Alcohol Abuse in Women is different, we would like to present an excerpt of our upcoming book Emotional frustration- the hushed plague, to start the discussion. Here it is:

—”Doctor…Got to have a shot before I go to bed…Can’t sleep if I don’t!”

Carol X. is a divorced middle-aged mother of three that looks much older than her chronological age due to her chronic abuse of alcohol and smoking. Paradoxically she kicked her husband out of their house due to heavy drinking but his bottle—a callous counsellor of sorts—stayed behind in a cupboard’s top shelf. Like for many women, it started as a self-medication for her resilient depression and insomnia, furtively used at home, without nosy witnesses; slowly she became hooked on that habit, even after having Detox and joining Alcoholic Anonymous.[i]

A study [ii] by the National Institute of Alcohol and Drug Abuse shows that 60% of US women have at least one drink a year; 13% of the latter group have more than seven drinks per week. This level is above the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” [iii], issued by the Health and Health Services Department.  Women’s bodies have less water than men’s ones, which makes it harder for them to disperse the toxic by-products in brain, liver, digestive tract, and kidneys. Even with small intakes, they are at a higher risk for car accidents and abuse.[iv]  Even though it is illegal in all states, underage women engage in it, especially in American colleges.[v] Alcohol temporarily blunts all the sensory input to the brain, which brings an illusory sense of relief; it enables the onset of the first superficial phase of the sleep process, but it decreases the duration of the REM phase. [vi]

References

[i] https://www.aa.org/

[ii] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

[iii] https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

[iv] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Video presentation “Alcohol and the Female Brain”, presented by NIAAA Director Dr. George F. Koob, January 9, 2018.

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-and-female-brain-presented-by-NIAAA-director-george-koob

[v] “Are women more vulnerable to alcohol effects?” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, No. 46, December 1999. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa46.htm

[vi] Soon-Yeob Park, Mi-Kyyeong Oh, Bum-Soon Lee, “The effects of Alcohol on Quality of Sleep”, Korean Journal of Family Medicine 2015 Nov; 36(6): 294-299

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