For health's sake · Drinking and the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of stress for many people and changes to many aspects of our daily lives. One thing that has changed dramatically is alcohol consumption.

“Overall, there’s been a 14% increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic,” said Brian Bartlett. Brian is the manager of Programs for Change, a substance abuse recovery program based in western Wisconsin. “And in Minnesota, there’s been a 25% increase in total alcohol sales since the pandemic began.”

An extra alcoholic drink here and there isn’t necessarily a sign of a drinking problem. But it’s important to understand your relationship with alcohol, and to know how to change it if you want or need to. This was the main focus of our conversation with Brian on the For Health’s Sake podcast. We covered:

  • Pandemic drinking and trends in the use of other substances like cannabis and opioids
  • How to recognize signs of a substance use problem
  • Where to get help if you’re worried about your alcohol use
  • Tips for changing your drinking habits

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

“Just because a person has concerns about alcohol doesn't mean that they have magically become alcohol dependent or that they need to go to treatment or anything like that,” Brian pointed out. “But just like with any other health concern, if you are seeing or experiencing something related to your relationship with alcohol, reach out to a physician.”

Your primary care doctor is a great person to go to with these kinds of concerns. They can give you a professional opinion and advice for what you’re experiencing, and refer you to a specialist if needed.