Twenty million Americans struggle with alcoholism. That was a fact before the pandemic began.
It is becoming clear the degree to which COVID-19 has exacerbated an already deadly problem. Rates of alcohol consumption in the spring of 2020 were up 14%, while heavy drinkers consumed nearly 30% more than in pre-pandemic months.
A worrisome trend
Public health experts and hospitals around the U.S. are now reporting dramatic increases in alcohol-related admissions for diseases like alcoholic hepatitis and liver failure.
Many large hospital systems (University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Harvard University, and Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, etc.) are seeing jumps in alcoholic liver disease cases of 30-50% since March of 2020.
According to Dr. Raymond Chung, a hepatologist at Harvard University and president of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, the increase in liver disease in people under 40 "has been alarming for years, but what we're seeing now is truly dramatic."
Why are so many drinking so much more alcohol during this time?
Sociologists and those in the psychiatric community suggest that financial hardship, the sense of isolation, the lack of daily structure, boredom, and depression have all contributed to the rise in heightened alcohol use.
Alcohol has been used by humans to numb painful emotions for eons.
And there is another concern.
Experts worry that women are disproportionately suffering the harmful effects of alcohol during this crisis. Women typically metabolize alcohol less efficiently than their male counterparts. This fact means that alcohol remains in the bloodstreams of women longer – causing greater organ damage in the process.
Liver failure kills
According to the most recent data, over 1 in 20 patients with alcohol-related liver failure die while in the hospital, and alcohol-related liver disease is the leading cause for liver transplants.
It's also a disease that makes people far more vulnerable to COVID-19, with alcohol-associated liver disease increasing the risk of death from COVID by as much as 79% to 142%.
If you're struggling with an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs during this endless pandemic and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, or Southern Maine, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. Our unique model of care is giving clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care. To learn more, please contact one of our Recovery Specialists.