Drank Too Much During Quarantine and Now I Can't Stop
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Drank Too Much During Quarantine and Now I Can’t Stop

You may have spent many weeks in quarantine due to the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19. If you drank too much during quarantine, know that you’re not alone. Market research firm, Nielsen, reported that hard liquor sales shot up 75% compared to the same date the previous year, and beer and wine sales increased by 66% and 42%, respectively. [1]

A unique type of stress and anxiety naturally accompanies a novel virus where little is known about how the disease will affect us and those we love. During quarantine, many people turned to alcohol to help them cope, and some may have developed unhealthy habits.

Reasons Why You Drank Too Much During Quarantine

Because SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus, not much was initially known about how dangerous it was and what caused it to spread. It’s no wonder that many people were worried about how the virus would ultimately impact their health and financial security. People were naturally anxious early on and became restless and frustrated as the quarantine timeline was extended. And with additional stressors, such as trying to work with children at home and becoming responsible for their education, adults in quarantine were looking for a way to take the edge off and relieve boredom.

One Manhattan psychologist described it as feeling like the walls are closing in around you, and said her patients were craving ways to shake off irritability and loss of control. While in quarantine, some turned to alcohol to help them cope. [2]

How Much is Too Much Alcohol?

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking as up to two drinks a day for men and just one drink per day for women. Heavy alcohol use is described as four or more drinks for men and three or more for women. [3] But the number of drinks consumed isn’t necessarily a good benchmark for assessing a problematic relationship with alcohol. Instead, examine how alcohol affects your physical well-being, the ability to function at work, or to manage relationships.

How Drinking Too Much Can Impact Your Health

If you find that you’re drinking to help you sleep, you should know that alcohol is actually a sleep-disrupter, as it interferes with your circadian rhythms and blocks restorative REM sleep. [4] Poor sleep can lead to increased stress the following day. Given the way reward psychology works, it makes sense that alcohol would become the go-to solution to help offset that stress.

Drinking alcohol can lead to reduced anxiety, greater muscle relaxation, and a slower heart rate due to how it affects the central nervous system. [5] But if you begin to rely on alcohol to get relief, you’ll increase your tolerance to it. You will begin to need to drink more and with greater frequency to achieve the same effects. [6] As you continue to drink excessively, you’ll likely develop a physical dependence on alcohol, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms when you try to reduce the amount you consume. [7]
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You Know You Should Stop But You Can’t

If you recognize that you drank too much during quarantine and can’t stop relying on it to help you cope, you may need help to break the cycle. Your best option is to find a treatment program that effectively eliminates your alcohol dependence. A successful program can also teach you healthier ways to manage stress. The programs at Ocean Hills Recovery include detoxification, behavior counseling, and mutual-support group therapy. Each treatment program is customized to suit your individual needs. We’re committed to providing a path toward a future free from substance abuse, tailored for each client.

Learn More About Treatment at Ocean Hills Recovery

Quarantine was challenging in so many ways, and people are still dealing with the stress associated with COVID-19. Let Ocean Hills Recovery help you reclaim your life and prepare you for a better future. Contact our experienced, caring staff to learn more about how we can put you on the road to recovery.



[1] https://www.newsweek.com/us-alcohol-sales-increase-55-percent-one-week-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-1495510

[2] https://www.everydayhealth.com/coronavirus/is-coronavirus-anxiety-driving-you-to-drink/

[3] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

[4] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-alcohol-affects-quality-and-quantity-sleep

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/us/30IHW-drinking-women-coronavirus-quarantine-habit.html

[6] https://www.verywellmind.com/alcohol-and-tolerance-66572

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860472/

About the author:

Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.

Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.

Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.