It’s become something of a good-natured joke that the COVID-19 pandemic normalized day drinking and virtual happy hours among coworkers and “mommy groups.” The consequences of increased alcohol consumption during lockdowns are just becoming known, however, and they’re no laughing matter. Authors of an article just published by JAMA Network collected data from more than a dozen studies, arriving at the conclusion that between 20% and 40% of individuals acknowledged consuming more alcohol during the pandemic. The article notes that similar spikes have been seen in the wake of other disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The result has been an increase in alcohol-related emergencies, including drunk-driving accidents. At Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, interhospital patient transfers for alcohol-associated liver disease jumped 62% compared with prepandemic levels. The underlying message is clear: Urgent care providers need to probe patients for changes in alcohol consumption and habits. If patient are overindulging on a regular basis, counsel them on the potential consequences to their short- and long-term health.
Be Alert: More Patients May Have Alcohol-Use Disorders Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic