Home Coronavirus Drinking During COVID-19: Why You Might Want to Watch Your Alcohol Consumption

Drinking During COVID-19: Why You Might Want to Watch Your Alcohol Consumption

Human beings and alcohol go way back — roughly 9,000 years, to be more precise. Alcohol has been a massive part of human culture, pushing and shaping the development of aspects such as language, arts, and religion. No wonder people have such a hard time letting it go, even in the face of the current pandemic.

A quote by the Greek poet Hesiod comes to mind: “Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things.” In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, it seems this concept of moderation is now a forgotten one. Some feel that now more than ever, they need that extra pint or glass to help soothe their anxiety.

Granted, Americans love their alcoholic beverages. In 2017, for instance, Ohio State Highway Patrol reported 379 cases of fatal crashes owing to driving under the influence. Now, in the wake of the current pandemic, lots of bars, breweries, and wineries have been forced to shut down to minimize crowding. But even as bars remain indefinitely closed, Americans have taken it upon themselves to stockpile their favorite alcoholic beverages.

States such as Texas, California, and New Mexico have taken their drinking to a level higher. As justifiable as it may seem, overindulging in alcohol is never a good idea — especially at a time such as this. Building a robust immune system during times of a pandemic is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself. Alcohol doesn’t help in that noble cause.

You are likely aware that excessive alcohol consumption can damage your liver and heart. However, an increased alcohol intake can also damage your digestive system, causing malnutrition and even damage to your immune system. This can increase the risk of catching potentially deadly illnesses such as pneumonia.

First, it’s essential to know that there’s a whole ecosystem of helpful microbes (also called your microbiome) living in your intestines. These little helpers consist of a variety of microorganisms and play a key role in fighting illnesses. When you overindulge in your favorite alcoholic drink, the ethanol present in that drink has several adverse effects on your digestive system — one of them being disrupting your gut’s microbiome. Additionally, excessive drinking may impair the functioning of your lung’s immune cells, leading to an increased risk of contracting respiratory-related illnesses.

It might not seem like such a huge deal to have an impaired immune system, especially for a short while. But if you happen to come into contact with a pathogen, you’d be less protected. And given how fast COVID-19 is spreading, it’s not a risk you want to take. Now more than ever, you need an immune system that’s going to support you in a time of need.

Yes, COVID-19 has a lot of people on edge owing to financial pressures and uncertainty. However, alcohol isn’t the only way to combat your anxiety. There are plenty of ways you can manage your stress levels without having to consult the bottle continually.

Exercise, for one, is an excellent way to mitigate those feelings of anxiety. Exercise is a scientifically proven way of improving your mood and eliminating stress since it releases loads of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins. Chances are your local gym is closed, but you can still work out from the comfort of your home. Exercise is also a great way to boost your energy since it delivers more oxygen to your body while also helping fend off illnesses.

Another thing to focus on is eating right. A healthy and balanced diet helps keep your immune system in good shape. If you’re worried about how to shop for healthy foods while limiting your exposure to crowds, your best bet is stocking up on canned foods. Look mainly for frozen and dried vegetables and fruits, canned or frozen meats, dried whole grains, and dried legumes. Less alcohol and healthier eating are the perfect combination for these pandemic times.

With that said, there are those individuals in the society who might face major health consequences without access to alcohol. Asking people with an alcohol use disorder to completely abstain from drinking would be life-threatening on their part. These individuals could go into withdrawal and suffer a myriad of psychiatric complications — and without access to medical care, this situation could even be deadly. Some state governments view liquor stores as a necessity for the sake of the few individuals whose lives depend on alcohol.

Alcohol isn’t always the villain, though. It has a plethora of benefits when used for purposes other than drinking. Global distilleries such as Pernod Ricard have come to the rescue by manufacturing hand sanitizers, which are now possibly the rarest of commodities. These sanitizers use a high concentration of alcohol as their method of efficacy and can be as effective as ordinary soap if appropriately used.

The trick is that hand sanitizers need to have at least 60% alcohol to work. The alcohol helps to break up viral membranes once it comes into direct contact with the pathogen. When using an alcohol-based sanitizer, make sure to rub it on the front and back of your hands and between your fingers.

That’s not to say that alcohol-based sanitizers are for hand use solely. It’s a known fact that the SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can last on inanimate surfaces for up to 72 hours. By wiping down your home or surroundings with an alcohol-based sanitizer, you eliminate any residual viral particles that are potentially infectious. Surfaces, particularly those made of stainless and plastic, should be cleaned and disinfected daily.

COVID-19 has curtailed a lot of what people considered normal. Social distancing and mandatory quarantine are not things human beings were designed for; even the most devoted of introverts can’t survive solely in isolation. Alcohol may seem like your best friend during these uncertain times. And while it enhances the user’s mood, consuming too much too quickly could depress the central nervous system to the point of respiratory failure.

To quote Oscar Wilde, “Everything in moderation — even moderation.” Is it wrong to drink? Certainly not, for many of us. But the last thing America needs is a pandemic coupled with increased cases of alcohol poisoning.


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