Binge Drinking During the Pandemic? Here’s How You Can Tell and Treat Addiction Mid-crisis

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Even before the crisis, lots of people unknowingly have an alcohol addiction problem. Just because you are not indulging in daily cocktails and alcoholic beverages already meant you have no drinking problem. This becomes an issue since most people would only seek help once their dependency on alcohol gets way out of control.

Sheltering in place orders made more people think of ways to keep themselves busy during the crisis. Not being able to do what was considered harmless before made people stressed out. As more people succumb to the virus each day, we grow increasingly anxious.

We try to cope with the daily stress of our lives, engaging in activities that will take our minds off of our problems. But then, some of us turned to our vices and are now unknowingly nursing an addiction. This is evident as a new study shows that there is a surge of binge drinking mid-crisis.

But for some reason, many of us fail to recognize when our occasional drinking is becoming problematic. Just because you think your work remains unaffected, your loved ones are okay with your habits and you feel normal, does not mean you don’t have a drinking problem.

How to tell if I now have an alcohol problem?

There are many ways that can help you recognize a drinking problem early on. Here are some of them.

Recognize your symptoms

According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders, 5th Edition) there are 11 symptoms to watch out for. The severity will depend on the number of symptoms present. Answering truthfully can help you check if you indeed have an alcohol use disorder.

Answer the CAGE questions truthfully

Doctors and mental health professionals make use of a mnemonic. This helps them check if your drinking habits already put you at a high risk of alcohol dependence. They use the acronym CAGE which roughly stands for the following.

  • Have you ever felt the need to CUT down your drinking habits?
  • Have you ever felt ANNOYED after someone criticized your drinking?
  • Was there ever a time when you felt GUILTY about drinking?

Was there ever a time when you experienced an EYE-OPENER or needed a drink the moment you wake up to get rid of your hangover?

Experts say that answering yes to two or more of these questions means you are already might already need professional treatment to address the potential problem.

How to Address Your Pandemic Binge-drinking Problem

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The fact that you recognize the symptoms and you are willing to know your treatment options are great signs that you are ready for a life-changing change. The quickest way to recover is to seek help from your loved ones and a professional. The sooner you seek help, the better the outcome will be.

If you are afraid to tell anyone about your problem, you can try other options. If you are not keen on visiting a professional just yet, you can try an anonymous online tool that specializes in helping people with alcohol problems recover. There are also a number of alcohol addiction recovery apps that will assist you in finding and maintaining sobriety.

Get to know your treatment options. Sometimes, your doctor will prescribe medications or psychotherapy to address the problem. For most people, they require a residential program that targets people with alcohol addiction.

But successfully completing the program may not be enough to ensure life-long sobriety. This is why many people would spend their time in a sober living community after a detox. This helps instill a healthy routine and offer a safe and supportive community to reduce the chances of a relapse.

Preventing Alcohol-dependency During Covid-19

According to a study, every week we spend at home quarantining increases the risk for binge drinking. This only goes to show how the lack of social interaction and staying indoors can influence our decision to go binge-drinking. Addressing social isolation and increasing outdoor activities can help prevent alcohol dependency mid-pandemic.

Social support is crucial in keeping ourselves happy and mentally healthy. Since there are still social restrictions in place, we can turn to other ways to still get support from our loved ones. This can include the following.

  • Regular phone calls, texts, and video chat to catch up with family and friends
  • Hanging out with friends (must be a group lower than 10 while following social distancing protocols)
  • Enjoy virtual activities like yoga, cooking classes, or attending virtual parties
  • Participating in Zoom meetings
  • Go on walks or run with a buddy with social distancing in mind
  • Play online games with friends
  • Write your loved ones an email

Aside from safe socialization techniques, you will benefit from engaging in other activities that are relaxing and productive. Think of gardening, improving your home, cooking, baking and yoga. When doing your grocery showing, stay away from the alcoholic beverages aisle and don’t give in to temptations if a friend asks you to go with them on a drinking session.

Alcohol abuse is increasingly becoming a problem during the coronavirus pandemic. Know that you are not alone if you’ve been binge-drinking your way out of the crisis. But relaxing you need help and actually making an effort to address your drinking problem is the first step towards your recovery.

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