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Professional counselor speaks on why people are drinking more during COVID-19 | Your Best Life

In this week's Your Best Life, she spoke with a professional counselor about why we've seen more people boozing it up during the pandemic.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

TEMPLE, Texas — Since COVID-19 led to shelter in place orders, alcohol sales have skyrocketed. During the peak, which was the middle of March, marketing research firm Nielsen said US alcohol sales rose 55% compared to the same time in 2019. In April, 6 News Anchor Leslie Draffin decided to take a break from alcohol.

In this week's Your Best Life, she spoke with a professional counselor about why we've seen more people boozing it up during the pandemic and ways to tell if your nightly glass of wine could be a sign of a deeper problem.

COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders have led to increased alcohol sales across the country. Nielsen marketing said compared with last year, sales of spirits were up 75%, wine was up 66% and beer rose 42% in March.  

So why are people drinking more? 

Jeffrey Chupik, professional counselor and CEO Chupik Counseling, said there are three reasons. 

"One is time, people just have more time on their hands. Two, is there's less things to do. Things are closed down and they're just less to go out and do. And then thirdly, you know you have an increased amount of anxiety and stress and mood disturbances."

In April, I decided to stop drinking. I went from a glass or two of wine at a time, to none. This is because drinking was negatively impacting my mood and my sleep. Still, I wouldn't say I had a problem, but Chupik said spotting a problem can be hard. 

"Alcohol is really tricky, it's really sneaky. Usually, there's not some kind of real clear line for people where people cross it and think, 'Oh, I now have a problem.' You know? It sneaks up on you and because you know most people who drink enjoy drinking, they find a lot of ways to fib to themselves to lie to themselves. And so it's really about taking a brutally honest look at yourself, how much are you drinking, is it increasing? Is your tolerance level increasing? How is alcohol affecting your life?" Chupik said.

Chupik suggested that you keep a journal and track how much you drink. Then, find other things to help you de-stress.

"Find other healthy outlets. A lot of times people drink to wind down at the end of the night, finding other ways to do that like taking a hot bath or meditation or, you know, getting some exercise some other healthy outlet for that energy, other than consuming alcohol," Chupik said.

For me, those healthy outlets are reading, drinking mocktails - mostly sparkling water and kombucha -- and taking bubble baths. But professional therapy and self-help groups can also help you manage problems with alcohol.

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