Heavy drinking up 41% by women during coronavirus pandemic: Study

Alcohol consumption went way up during the pandemic shutdown, according to a new study.

A study by the Rand Corporation shows a 41% increase in heavy drinking - or more than four drinks in one sitting - by women. This is also considered binge drinking, health experts say.

The frequency of drinking also went up 14% overall for adults 30 and older and 17% among women when compared to the same period last year.

Action News spoke with Joi Honer with Retreat Behavioral Health.

She says stress, isolation and lack of a normal routine all play a role, especially if you've struggled with alcohol abuse in the past. Social isolation and a change in finances can trigger a relapse.

Overall, alcohol is also accessible for most people and if you're not going into work, it may feel okay to have a drink or two during the day.

Honer, who has been sober 39 years, says women should ask themselves would you normally be drinking at this time or this much.

If the answer is no, she recommends the buddy system to get you back on track.

"Reach out to someone, a close friend or family member and say, 'I'm questioning my use. I'm concerned about it, can I commit to you that this will happen, that I won't do this at that time or I'll only have one drink a day?' Use somebody you can trust, that will support you but at the same time identify if you don't follow through and ask questions," Honer said.

You should also educate yourself on the effects of alcohol.

Drinking too much puts you at a greater risk for high blood pressure and some cancers.

It can weaken your immune system, impact your sleep and lead to depression and anxiety.

Honer says to look for healthier alternatives such as yoga, going for a walk or journaling.
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