By Barrett White
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Here’s what Legacy’s experts say about the effect the pandemic has had on alcohol use.
Recovery is difficult. The average person considering sobriety likely already knows that leaving alcohol behind is going to be tough because they have probably tried to stop before. Addiction is an incredibly destructive disease; nearly every aspect of an individual’s life is affected along the way. Even as an individual kicks their physical use of alcohol, they still have to rebuild the life that they left behind in the process.
Is alcohol bad?
Some observational studies have associated small amounts of alcohol with health benefits. However, heavy drinking and long-term drinking can contribute to physical and mental health issues, the chances of which increase as you age. Heart and liver damage, a weakened immune system, and memory issues are common.
“Data from a national survey of US adults on their drinking habits found that excessive drinking increased by 21% during the pandemic,” says Dr. Melanie Melville, Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Legacy. “People can turn to alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism for symptoms of depression, anxiety, or even boredom, as other avenues to de-stress and seek social supports were not accessible during the height of the pandemic”.
Should we stop drinking?
Even taking a small break from alcohol consumption can have significant health benefits. According to a study in the BMJ Open, a regular drinker abstaining from alcohol for one month may experience better sleep, increased energy, and weight loss. They also lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduced cancer-related proteins in their blood.
Experimenting with “sober-curious”
As you look forward to sobriety and rebuilding our life, it’s important to consult with a recovery expert to develop a comprehensive plan to guide you along the way. You’re not alone.
“Supporting someone who may not be drinking for a variety of reasons can look like offering non-alcoholic drink options; asking about them not drinking in an open, curious and non-judgmental way; focusing on why you’re spending time with them, which is connection,” says Susie Loredo, LCSW, addiction and recovery expert at Legacy Community Health.
“There are so many wonderful resources for the sober-curious,” Loredo continues. Apps such as Reframe, I Am Sober, Drinker’s Helper, and LOOSID are among Loredo’s favorites.
Other recommended resources include podcasts, books, and communities:
- SMART Recovery
- In Recovery
- Black & Sober (Apple) (Spotify)
- The Addicted Mind
- Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington
- Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker
- The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray
- This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life by Annie Grace
Susie Loredo, LCSW has offered her expertise to media outlets across Houston on a wide array of topics related to addiction recovery.