Alcohol in Isolation: How Much is Too Much?

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alcoholWe’ve been ordered to stay at home and isolate ourselves from our friends and family. Extroverts are struggling. The stores are running out of toilet paper, and liquor store sales are up. The way we connect with people has changed, and so has the way we consume alcohol. Since bars and restaurants are closed, we don’t have that physical space to socialize or de-stress after a long day of work. Many people have been doing virtual happy hours and game nights to stay connected.

Most of us have been forced to change our daily routines. We’re bored and we’re lonely. The fear of the unknown and all of the uncertainties loom loudly. Gyms and classes are closed and we’re left to depend on our motivations to keep moving. Some are struggling to figure out what to do with all of their time, while others feel like they have less time than ever between working from home and distance learning. For some, the amount they’re drinking has increased; and for many, it’s happening while they’re alone.

Whether or not your drinking habits have changed now that we’re social-distancing, if you start feeling uncomfortable with the amount of alcohol you’re consuming, or how much you’re thinking about drinking, it’s OK to take a break. It’s important to be mindful of our habits and how they’re affecting our lives.

If you do indulge in some adult beverages, try to be cognizant of why your’e drinking and how much you’re drinking. Just like anything else, if you’re doing so occasionally, safely, and in moderation it’s fine. It’s when it becomes more frequent that it could turn into a problem.  

Most people know that drinking too much alcohol is harmful. But how much is too much? According to the CDC, heavy drinking is 8+ drinks per week for women, and 15+ drinks per week for men. Excessive alcohol use can be risky and lead to serious health problems. Some short-term risks are the increase of injuries, violence, and risky behaviors. With prolonged heavy drinking can come other problems like cancer, dementia, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Alcohol is a depressant and it interferes with some anti-depressant/ anti-anxiety medications. So if you are already living with a mental health issue, try to be cautious of your intake and consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions.

“Drinking alcohol is like pouring gasoline on your anxiety.”
-Laura McKowen
Author of We Are The Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life 

Just over two years ago, I made the choice to cut alcohol out of my life.  It just wasn’t working for me anymore. I had realized that alcohol played such a big role in my life, yet a lot of the time it was negatively affecting it. I was a new mother and wanted to give my son the best version of me that I could. It was an important decision and one that was, for me, long overdue. I have never felt more content with who I am than I do now. I am happy with my life. Why am I telling you this? Just so you know that if you have something that isn’t positively serving you, it is OK to get rid of it. I’m just one of the many people who have chosen to better themselves by deciding not to drink alcohol. Read more of my story here: No Thanks, I Don’t Drink.  

Please understand that I’m not saying you have to stop drinking altogether, but encouraging healthy monitoring of alcohol intake, especially in this time of isolation. Be aware of habits. When feeling lonely or bored, set up a video call with friends. If the stress is weighing too heavily, go for a walk and get some fresh air. Make sure you’re drinking enough water, and figure out how to move your body a little bit each day. And if you run out of things to do, thanks to Netflix, there’s always Tiger King.

There are a lot of online resources out there to help too. If you think you may have a problem with how much alcohol you’re consuming, or are concerned about your mental health, please consult with your healthcare provider. And feel free to reach out to me if you need to talk to someone.

Online resources:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

Blogs and other good stuff:
Laura McKowen – https://www.lauramckowen.com/
This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol – https://thisnakedmind.com/
The Temper – https://www.thetemper.com/
She Recovers – https://sherecovers.co/
Miracles Are Brewing – http://www.miraclesarebrewing.com/

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Blair is a wife to Rodney and mommy to Kyus (2016). She grew up in Red Wing and has lived in Rochester for 15 years. Blair works full-time at the Mayo Clinic as a Psychometrist (she tests people’s thinking). She finds mental health and psychology extremely interesting and loves learning about wellness. In her spare time Blair likes to do all things relaxing. This includes, but is not limited to: napping, going for walks, taking baths, and watching reality television. On the weekends you can find her thrift shopping, and attending fun events around town with her family of 3. Blair loves to make people laugh with her sarcastic and blunt personality, and she doesn’t take life too seriously.