drinking during quarantine

Drinking too much during quarantine? 

Have you been drinking too much during quarantine? 

2020 started off with promise. It was a new year and a new decade, and even the year itself seemed to be bound for clarity and vision for the future. But by March, it was clear we were quickly headed into uncharted territory. As states began to close one by one, businesses shut down and people were directed to work, school, and shelter at home. Most of us were greatly confused. Work from home…while our kids schooled at home? How long would this last? Was this just a break, or a break-up with regular life? How much alcohol would this take to make it palatable? Drinking during quarantine can quickly become too much. 

As we quickly tried to adjust to the new rules (I can go to Home Depot but not to the mall?), our purchasing habits showed us exactly what we thought was important. Home improvement stores showed us that if we were going to be stuck inside, we couldn’t live another minute without that hideous paint color. And alcohol sales surged 500%, despite many restaurants and liquor stores being closed. It is clear that Americans felt stressed, and that stress popped the top on hard seltzers and corks galore. 

While there is nothing inherently wrong with imbibing spirits, drinking to ease the panic of uncertainty, to numb the pain of life’s problems, or to temporarily remove yourself from the life you have can quickly lead you down an unhealthy path. The hard truth is that while alcohol might smooth out the friction you’re feeling for a few hours, when it wears off you’re left with the same friction and a headache at best. At worst, you might have a whole new issue to deal with—alcohol addiction. 

As businesses and citizens slowly come out of their respective quarantines to attempt a new normal, many people are realizing they may have come to depend a little too much on the hard stuff. If this is you, here are a few questions that might come up and how our experts answer them. 

First off, what now?

If you’ve decided you’ve been drinking too much during quarantine, don’t panic. Take stock of where you are. When do you start drinking? Is it early morning, mid-day, or in the evening? Is it every day or just on weekends? Do you feel like you can refrain or is there an uncontrollable urge to drink when you aren’t?

Do you have any physical symptoms if you don’t drink? 

If you’ve been drinking heavily, particularly if regularly, you may have some physical symptoms when you stop. Mild symptoms can show up just a few hours after you stop, and can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Shaky hands
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating

Often, mild symptoms will be a nuisance, but will dissipate or be manageable quickly. More serious symptoms should be reported to your primary care physician or checked out by another medical professional as soon as possible. These could include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Racing heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Heavy sweating
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs)

If you have mild symptoms, you should still report them to your primary care physician, but you may be able to physical stop drinking on your own. If you have serious symptoms, speak to medical professionals to get a game plan for addressing your addiction. 

What about extra help? 

If you find you need extra support to address the mental aspects of addiction, there are numerous free support groups in the area, including our own Centered Support groups held Saturdays from 12-1 PM. If you need more than just peer support, Centered Recovery provides a full outpatient program based on cutting-edge neuropsychology and mindfulness. Our program is available in person and virtually, and includes morning and evening groups to accommodate every schedule. Even if you drank too much during quarantine, you don’t have to lose hope! There is a way to regain your physical and mental health once more!