Alcohol Abuse During The COVID-19 Pandemic

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant a loss of socialization, financial difficulty, and a sense of uncertainty, and for many others these factors have led to more serious effects and conditions, including a significant increase in alcohol abuse.

According to a recent report conducted by the JAMA Network Open, alcohol consumption among adults has increased 14% from 2019 to 2020. This number is especially high in adult women with the study finding a 41% increase in alcohol consumption during this time. While other studies show that the increase in alcohol consumption happened almost instantaneously, increasing numbers have been reported throughout the pandemic. When stay-at-home orders first began, Nielsen reported a 54% increase in nationwide alcohol sales for the week ending on March 21st, 2020 compared to the same week in 2019. Online alcohol sales also surged drastically from 2019 to 2020 by 262%, according to an additional JAMA Network Open study.

Nearly three weeks after significant increases in alcohol consumption were reported following stay-at-home orders, the World Health Organization issued a statement warning about the potential of alcohol misuse and its effect on health conditions and poor decision-making.


As studies only continued to emerge regarding alcohol use and abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, additional research hoped to shed light on the reasoning behind the increase. Many researchers speculated that alcohol abuse may be linked to heightened anxiety and depression during the pandemic as a result of uncertainty, isolation, and grief. A Household Pulse Survey reported that symptoms of anxiety and depression rose from 36.4% to 41.5% during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study also reported that a large number of individuals experiencing heightened anxiety and depression did not seek professional help.

With serious short-term and long-term effects associated with alcohol consumption and alcohol misuse, these numbers are a cause for concern. Short-term alcohol use can lead to a number of health concerns, as well as dangerous situations, including:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Injury
  • Aggression
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)

Meanwhile, the long-term effects of alcohol use include a long list of chronic illnesses and other serious health conditions, like:

  • Alcohol Misuse and Dependence
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver Disease
  • Cancer
  • Weakened Immune System

And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to instigate feelings of isolation, uncertainty, and stress, alcohol use has only continued to increase, leaving many at risk for these serious mental and physical health conditions.

Finding Help for Alcohol Abuse

It is important for individuals struggling with alcohol abuse to seek professional help. For many, the first step towards sobriety is finding a reputable rehabilitation program. At Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire, we dedicate ourselves to bringing hope and recovery to those suffering from alcohol abuse and addiction. To learn more about our inpatient and outpatient services, as well as our treatment method and process, please reach out today!