drinking and COVID-19
It had been a while since I saw a good friend of mine. The COVID-19 pandemic had kept us from visiting much except by phone or FaceTime, and even then it wasn't a lot.
So, after a couple of months of this, I decided to ask on a recent call if we could try getting together in person - properly socially distanced, of course. He said, "Sure. Why not?"
I headed over to his home that Saturday for lunch. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at the beginning. We sat out on his back patio on either side of an eight-foot table, talking and catching up about family, mutual friends and such.
As lunch went on, he offered a glass of wine. I obliged, given it was a Saturday and I also had a water chaser with some great food to go along with it. What I started to notice more and more, though, was how often he was filling up his own wine glass.
"Are you doing that a lot?" I asked.
"Refilling your wine glass," I said, noting it was his third in the course of an hour.
I can say the conversation dwindled some after that. I felt badly about asking, but I was also concerned for my friend. He hadn't been like that before the pandemic started. Now it seemed his drinking might be teetering toward addiction.
I decided after I left to research drinking and its connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. What I found was really interesting:
- some people were sharing information about their "quarantinis"
- someone had counted more than 86,000 Instagram "quaratini" posts
And so on. It turned out there were a lot of people turning to day drinking as a way to escape from boredom or stress connected to coronavirus and staying around home so much.
Which is a long way of bringing me to the point. Experts say it's hard to become addicted to anything over just a few weeks. It takes time to do that. What they say is, for many the day drinking is all about the stress connected to COVID-19 that makes them seek some solace, and for some that's in alcohol.
The thing to do, they say, is to gain control over the stress. That means doing more things that make a person happy. It could be a walk, or a hike, or just simply reading a book or magazine on the deck.
My friend and I talked about his drinking a day or two after our visit. He agreed it was getting out of hand during the day. He decided that, with my help, he'd seek some help to find out if it was stress-related.
He's doing great right now and hasn't had a drink in two weeks (he shows me his house via FaceTime to assure me all is well). We're both feeling good about how he's doing.
If you notice that someone you care about is drinking more during the pandemic, it's worth it to talk about the issue. It might all be OK, but you don't know for sure until you talk about it.
Reaching out - especially now - has never been more important to show we care.