Coronavirus and alcohol: how not to sleep during quarantine


man drinks beer

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Don’t try to relieve stress with alcohol, World Health Organization experts warn

In Russia, in the last week of March, sales of whiskey, vodka and beer grew by 47%, 31% and 25%, respectively, according to the marketing company Nielsen, cited by Reuters.

In the United States, around the same period, sales of alcoholic beverages jumped 55% compared to the same period last year.

The same trend, according to Nielsen, is noted in Britain and France.

According to Reuters, the head of the Sober Russia society and a member of the Public Chamber of Russia Sultan Khamzaev, the increased demand for alcohol is caused by quarantine, stress, fears that stores will run out of booze, as well as the prevailing opinion among Russians that alcohol can help not get infected with coronavirus infection. The Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to panic buying essential goods, caused another unhealthy trend: in almost all countries of the world where there is no prohibition, alcohol sales increased.

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Alcohol sales rose in many countries during quarantine

“Sober Russia” even called for restricting the sale of alcohol in the regions, but the Ministry of Industry and Trade did not recommend this because of fears that the restriction could lead to social tension.

The belief that strong drinks, such as vodka and whiskey, can serve as a means of preventing the new SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus, has led to the fact that in China in the first months of the current epidemic, alcohol consumption also jumped, and in Iran, where alcohol is forbidden at all , there have been cases of mass poisoning by an underground vulture.

Perhaps these rumors arose after a series of publications, in particular, in the Chinese press, that virologists found even in the early stages: the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus is more vulnerable to alcohol than its other deadly relatives, SARS and MERS.

But it was only a question of wiping the surfaces with alcohol solutions, and not about the use inside.

As for libations, according to a study published in 2015 in the journal Alcohol Research, “excessive alcohol consumption can cause an undesirable reaction on the part of the immune system, for example, susceptibility to pneumonia.”

WHO also warns that during a pandemic, one should refrain from bad habits such as drinking alcohol and smoking.

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The requirement to maintain social distance forced many initiative groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to abandon group meetings

But how then to cope with stress, which only grows with the growth of anxieties about health, salaries, food shortages and just from sitting at home?

Tie in quarantine?

Some countries have decided to go the hard way and completely ban the sale of alcohol during the epidemic – for example, South Africa, Thailand, India.

For those who are used to their usual dose, this has become a real challenge.

“I drink regularly. I am terrified of the fact that I can neither drink nor leave the house,” said BBC Ratish Sukumaran, a 47-year-old screenwriter based in Kerala in southern India.

In his city, Thiruvananthapuram, the largest in the state, everything is closed, except for pharmacies and grocery stores.

When a temporary prohibition was announced in India, Ratish, unlike many of his friends, did not rush to the store to get a drink, but decided to seize the opportunity and tie it up.

By his own admission, in the last six months he had to travel a lot for work, and he drank almost daily.

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Ratish lasted only a week: “My whole body simply required something to drink. I could not concentrate on anything. I tried to watch the film, but it completely did not distract me from thoughts [об алкоголе]”

Abstinence syndrome – when the body requires the usual dose of ethanol – can be expressed in different ways: in increased excitability and resentment, sometimes aggression towards family members, and cause tremor of the extremities, convulsions, psychosis.

Kerala doctors began reporting cases of suicide based on alcohol withdrawal and even considered allowing doctors to “prescribe” alcohol to some of their addicted patients. But then they abandoned this step, as this would force the wine shops to open the doors, which would lead to all those who wanted to buy alcohol “without a prescription.”

Ratish was forced to give in to circumstances, but he thought about what attracted him first of all – drinking or talking, because he admits that he misses meeting with friends and their conversations about politics, cricket, cinema.

“The more friends I make, the more I drink. I want to understand: what do I miss more – drinks or friends?” – he admits.

A wine movie without dominoes?

Psychologists note that it is not easy for many quarantined people to cope with the fact that all the usual ways of leisure and entertainment have suddenly disappeared.

In Britain, over the past month, Google searches for “wine delivery” and “alcohol delivery” have grown more than 20 and 3.5 times, respectively.

At the same time, according to the British branch of Alcoholics Anonymous, from the beginning of March, calls to them on the hotline have grown by 22%, and requests for help in chat mode have grown by almost a third.

Since the introduction of quarantine measures, this public support organization for those who want to stop drinking, having branches in many countries of the world, has also switched to a remote mode of communication.

Unable to go out, more and more people began to find sudden consolation in a glass of wine or something stronger. And for some it’s generally a common thing to drink without going anywhere, in the company of the TV turned on.

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Doctors warn that excessive alcohol consumption can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infection

And even in a remote place, in order to diversify their working day at home, some can afford to work with a beer – which they would hardly have done while in the office.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic, we found that 58% drank to cope with a normal life situation – for example, relieve stress after work stress or treat yourself a little at the end of the day,” said Elaine Hindal, head of the British charity Drinkware, in Daily Telegraph interview.

Does alcohol really relieve stress?

Experts point out that alcohol helps to fall asleep quickly, but then alcohol introduces confusion into the phase of deep sleep, when the body and brain relax most, and a person can wake up in the middle of the night and suffer from insomnia until morning.

“Alcohol is a depressant, so those who start drinking more than usual can suddenly be influenced by their own negative thoughts,” Elaine Hindal points out. “Drinking alcohol to relieve stress can only increase the general feeling of anxiety and anxiety and generally worsen mood.”

In addition, experts say, it is not always easy to notice the onset of alcohol dependence in oneself.

In Britain, the recommended rate is not more than 6 glasses of wine per week, but doctors advise to practice regular non-alcoholic days.

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Alcohol can damage DNA and alter brain function.

Psychologists admit that if a person has a tendency to relieve stress through addictive behavior, for example, excessive training in a fitness club, now, having lost them, he may well replace them with alcohol.

How to detect signs of developing addiction?

For example, you reached for a glass earlier than usual, say, shortly after breakfast. Or they gradually began to increase the doses, which is understandable – after all, alcohol is addictive, and the previous volumes of drunk no longer give the same relaxing effect.

“Don’t forget that when people pour themselves at home, they often pour larger portions than they would offer in a pub,” says Elaine Hindal.

To fool herself, she advises taking smaller glasses or switching to drinks with a lower alcohol content.

You can also practice the so-called “informed” consumption of alcohol – that is, focus all your attention on this particular moment and drink slowly, stretching the moment.

There are special mobile applications that help track the amount of alcohol consumed, such as DrinkControl.

But there is another trend born during the current pandemic.

The hashtag Dry Covid (“Dry Covid”) has become popular in social networks – for those who have discovered a new, non-alcoholic reality and are going to study it in detail, sitting in quarantine.


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