The Pandemic Is Driving Us to Drink

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As much as it stinks, six months in, staying home as much as possible is still the right thing to do. COVID-19 has gotten all the way to the White House, and staying socially distanced is the best way to keep yourself, your neighbors, and your loved ones safe. You're probably well aware of the trade-offs, though, especially when it comes to your mental health.

Given how stressed out and depressed we all are during this pandemic, it might come as no surprise that we'll do just about anything to cope. According to new survey data from the nonprofit RAND Corporation, many of us are turning to alcohol. Reported increases in drinking are pretty stark; the number of women, for instance, who say they've been drinking four or more alcoholic beverages within a few hours has jumped more than 40 percent.

These findings are particularly relevant to younger adults. Those between the ages of 30 and 59 are drinking 19 percent more than they were at this point last year. This kind of consumption isn't just an issue of drunk shopping (or even liquid courage) — the health effects of too much alcohol are widely studied and well-known.

If you're wrestling with boredom, addiction, or compulsion toward substances, check in with a mental health professional or seek out appropriate counseling. If you're really in a pinch, there are free apps available that can help you tackle COVID stress. If you're not certain that this applies to you, start keeping a list of every time you reach for a beer, a bottle of wine, or a tipple of something to add to your coffee. There's nothing like seeing your habits laid out in writing to make a point for you.