Covid-19 Lockdowns and Alcoholism

Nobody saw it coming…

Life was going on as usual…

But all of a sudden, the declaration came…

There was a deadly pandemic in our midst…

Then containment measures followed…

With everything going remote–work, studies, and so on.

We found ourselves confined in lock-downs…

And then the inevitable–boredom, stress, anxiety, idleness

And the first natural reaction is to fix them with the most handy tool at your disposal!

And you started small….and then went on the loose–on a slippery slide…

Happening to life with reckless abandon, or is it life happening to you?

People imbibed…and seriously so!

No doubt…

Alcohol consumption shot through the roof in 2020, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

The pandemic kept us all at home–kids and spouse all at home trying to work and study!

And hey…

Not too difficult to walk a few feet over to the fridge and pull out a can of beer over lunch, or pour yourself a glass or two of wine!

No worries about drunk driving because you’re not driving anyway…

And it’s a whole lot cheaper than ordering drinks in a restaurant…

And no one is immune–it happens to the most disciplined of us…

That slow and steady slippery slide…

And before you know it, the “happy hour” beckons early and continues as long as you want it to.

According to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, more people than ever used alcohol to cope with career, social, health, and financial uncertainty…

Not to mention stress.

The researchers found that alcohol consumption among adults increased 14% from 2019 to 2020

And women, in particular, exhibited a whopping 41% increase in heavy drinking (4 or more drinks in a 2-hour period) in 2020 over 2019!

And excessive alcohol consumption can take a heavy toll on your health, including liver damage, heart health problems, and cognitive impairment, among other woes.

Even moderate consumption can wreak havoc on hormones, leading to increased estrogen in both men and women.

In men, alcohol will cause testosterone to convert to estrogen, leading to low libido, Erectile Dysfunction, weight gain, man boobs, etc.

In women, alcohol will cause a rise in estrogen, leading to an oversupply of the same–a condition called estrogen dominance…

And this comes with its own share of health problems, including:

  • Heavy periods
  • Weight gain
  • Endometriosis-uterine tissue growing outside of your uterus
  • Depression/anxiety/irritability
  • Low libido
  • Increased risk of breast and endometrial cancer

Excess estrogen also interferes with thyroid function and can slow the thyroid, triggering hypothyroid symptoms.

And for women who are on Hormone Replacement Therapy, alcohol can raise the amount of estrogen in the body up to 300%, while decreasing progesterone-the female sex hormone produced in the ovaries to help regulate your menstrual cycle and maintain your pregnancy.

If you find your Hormone Replacement Therapy not working, or gaining weight, it may have everything to do with alcohol intake.

Not only that…

If you’re dealing with menopausal symptoms, alcohol will worsen your hot flashes and night sweats.

Even worse, alcohol consumption has been shown to increase cortisol production in the body.

Cortisol is the hormone released by the adrenals when you’re stressed–no wonder, it’s called the stress hormone!

Excess cortisol brings along a range of unpleasant side effects, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Stress
  • Food cravings/weight gain
  • Anxiety and depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor focus, and…
  • Increase in blood sugar, and insulin resistance

And the negatives are many…

Alcohol also interferes with thyroid function as mentioned earlier, causing a rise in T3, T4, and production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) . This creates low thyroid reaction (hypo) to alcohol.

Hypothyroid symptoms include:

  • Weight gain and bloating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Impaired thinking, and…
  • Declining libido

And the rampage doesn’t seem to end…

Because alcohol negatively affects melatonin–the sleep hormone, and growth hormone, too.

Alcohol inhibits the release of melatonin…

And because the growth hormone is released during sleep, excessive alcohol consumption inhibits the release of the same.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is important for cell regeneration and cell reproduction. It helps to maintain, build, and repair healthy tissue in the brain and other organs.

This hormone can help speed up healing after an injury, and repair muscle tissue after exercise…

Further, it helps build muscle mass, boost metabolism, and burn fat.

It’s also said to benefit the quality of your skin, thereby slowing down the aging process.

Imbibing not only makes you hungrier, but also makes you lose control of what you choose to eat

And before you know it, you’re indulging junk foods–obviously not a great way to observe a healthy diet.

Alcohol adds to depression and anxiety, besides messing up your gut microbiome, which affects everything, including your immune system.

Worse still, drinking makes your skin look pale and sallow

Not to mention the dehydration effect, which deprives your body of vital nutrients–especially vitamins B-1 (thiamin), B-3 (niacin), and folate, as well as zinc and magnesium minerals.

With all the foregoing said, alcohol is not bad in its entirety, provided it’s indulged in moderation–a feat not so easy to achieve!

First, don’t reach out for the wine when the urge comes calling, or as soon as you’re done with work.

Postpone or suppress that urge by doing other equally health-beneficial things…

Like going for a short walk to relax, doing some yoga, playing with the kids, stretching and meditating.

It’s important to replace your drinking with something positive and worthwhile–something you look forward to, or one that makes a positive difference in your life, otherwise, there will be a lacuna in your routine…

Which is a recipe for relapse.

Find a non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic drink. You can mix your sparkling drinking water with kombucha and some lime garnish.

Don’t drink alcohol when you really should be drinking water. Always alternate water and alcohol during your drinking sessions to stay well hydrated.

Learn to sip your drink and enjoy it–don’t guzzle it as if you’re being paid to do so!

And it helps to order a drink that you sip slowly like red wine and vodka on the rocks–anything that’s not sweet.

And most importantly…

Have an accountability partner like a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or simply a good friend.

Let them know you want to cut back on alcohol so they may help you out with it.

It’s best to avoid heavy drinkers because willpower ends up going out the window. It’s not easy to stop when everyone else is drinking.

Be mindful of the people you hang around with!

It’s not overly difficult to cut back on alcohol. It’s a matter of being strict with self and being conscious of the inherent health risks that come with over-imbibing.

And should you find your drinking affecting your family or career…

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. There’s no squirm in taking back the reins of your life.

Go forth and rock; not get rocked!

I believe this is a very helpful piece to keep to yourself…or what do you think?

Please share widely to help other people just like you to moderate their drinking for a healthier world.

My profound gratitude for your patronage.

Stay tuned…