There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on almost everyone. Now that there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the illness itself, byproducts of the pandemic are starting to show up. Below we take a quick look at 5 dangers of drinking to cope with the pandemic.
There is a significant concern in the healthcare community about a different kind of pandemic — a mental health pandemic.
Stress, loneliness, isolation, and loss have all been common themes over the last year. So many people have tried to find ways to cope. Unfortunately, some coping mechanisms can lead to even more significant problems. That includes drinking.
While using alcohol to get through something difficult might feel fine in the moment, the implications are severe.
So, what are the real dangers of drinking to cope with the pandemic?
1. It Can Lead to Addiction
Perhaps the most considerable risk of using alcohol to cope is becoming addicted. The longer you drink, the more your tolerance for alcohol is likely to increase. As a result, you’ll end up wanting more to get the same numbing effect.
It doesn’t take long for that desire for more to turn into a full-fledged addiction. When that happens, it can be a long and challenging road to recovery.
2. It Can Damage Relationships
Using alcohol to cope can create tension in your relationships. You might find yourself distancing from the people you love. Maybe you’re embarrassed by your new “habit.” Or, perhaps you get angry when someone tries to talk to you about it.
It’s not uncommon for the abuse of alcohol to lead to broken relationships. If you see yourself starting to push loved ones away, consider it a huge red flag.
3. You Won’t Look for Healthier Alternatives
If you start using alcohol as a coping mechanism and think it works, you’re less likely to stop. Even if you begin to realize that you’re becoming dependent, it’s hard to turn to healthier coping mechanisms if alcohol seems to be “working.”
It’s better to start with stronger coping mechanisms. Whether that’s a support group, therapy, or even something like exercising instead, they will steer you down a much healthier and more stable path.
4. There Could Be Physical Implications
The short-term physical effects of alcohol might not seem so extreme. But, if you’re continuously using it to cope, you’re putting yourself at risk of some long-term consequences that could be pretty serious.
Alcohol abuse can lead to an increased risk of liver disease, heart disease, and specific types of cancer. It can impair your cognitive function and can even weaken your immune system. As a result, you’ll be much more susceptible to illnesses.
5. Long-Term Mental Health Effects
Not only can drinking to cope with the pandemic cause physical issues, but it can lead to long-term mental health problems, as well. Drinking can increase your risk of developing depression or anxiety.
That often creates a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Drinking causes you to experience symptoms of depression. So, you drink more to cope. That’s how easy it is to become addicted.
If you know you’re drinking to cope with the pandemic, you’re not alone. But, you also don’t have to depend on alcohol to get through it. Consider alcohol addiction counseling if you’ve started to notice your habit turning into something more. There are many other ways to cope, and you can break free from the confines that drinking wants to keep you in.
Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about alcohol addiction counseling. By taking the initiative now, you can break the cycle of addiction before becomes a more severe issue.