Has the Pandemic Caused More Drinking Problems?

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By Mayumi Elk Eagle, AMFT, APCC

During this quarantine time, it can be challenging for you to maintain your mental health. Researchers have found that drinking may be increasing since this COVID-19 pandemic started as a way to mask anxiety and fear from feeling uncertainty and avoiding facing reality.

If you are heavily relying on alcohol to forget the reality, obsessed about drinking, cannot stop drinking even though it is harming your health, you should talk to your primary care physician about your situation. If you are seeing a therapist, you can discuss your drinking habit. When you can be honest with yourself, you can best decide what to do next.

One significant sign that you may have a problem with alcohol is blackouts. There are two types of blackouts: “fragmentary blackouts,” where you only remember fragments of what happened while drinking, and “islands” where you don’t remember anything that happened (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2019). Blackouts are caused by high blood alcohol levels, which impairs your memory system in your brain. Blackouts are different from passing out. “During a blackout, a person is still awake, but their brain is not creating new memories” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2019). If your family members or close friends mention things you said and did while drinking and you don’t remember it, you may have had a blackout.

You may feel resistant to thinking of yourself as an alcoholic even though you have noticed that you have a problem. You may have the misconception that alcoholics are people who have lost everything and are not able to sustain themselves, which is not entirely true. Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, the two founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, both had well-paying jobs, but they could not stop drinking despite their declining health, financial problems, and family issues.

Alcoholics Anonymous facilitates a twelve-step program to help alcoholics acquire sobriety and stay sober. Much scientific research has been done about the effectiveness of the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve-Step program’s approach. As neuroscience is advancing, researchers are finding how this approach works from a neuroscience perspective.

Before the pandemic, you could go to an Alcoholics Anonymous in-person meeting to find a solution to your suffering through the support of others who have also struggled with alcoholism.

Fortunately, you can still join the program and get support through the many Alcoholics Anonymous meetings held on Zoom. When you feel alone, I recommend you try to find a meeting and just be there. You don’t need to leave your home. You have no obligation, and no one will convince you that you are an alcoholic. You are the only one who can decide whether you are an alcoholic or not.


Alcoholics Anonymous. (n.d.).
Blum, K., Thompson, B., Demotrovics, Z., Femino, J., Giordano, J., Oscar-Berman, M., …Gold, M.S. (2015).

The Molecular Neurobiology of Twelve Steps Program & Fellowship: Connecting the Dots for Recovery. Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome, 1,46-64.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2019). Interrupted Memories: Alcohol-Induced Blackouts. Retrieved from

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2020). Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder. Retrieved from

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Keeping a Daily Routine in the “New Normal”

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists and our days working from home push into the latter half of the year, the “new normal” constantly referenced still doesn’t feel so normal. While for some, quarantine seems almost like a vacation due to the varying amounts of convenience offered from working in the comforts of one’s own home. Even so, it’s important to consider what we want to have accomplished after these many months. Staying on top of things by maintaining a daily routine offers a shot at a sense of normalcy and certainty.

Many have been anxious and stressed due to quarantine, and establishing daily routines brings about a sense of order and focus. Simple activities such as making your bed, applying perfume, and working out remind us that life goes on despite all circumstances (Rivers). The pandemic is not here to stay forever; all things pass in a matter of time. Being prepared to operate as normal, whether social distancing or not, is a crucial aspect of maintaining one’s wellness. Continuing to clean, dress for work, and call people regularly helps fight the lonely and dreadful nature of our extended time indoors (Krans). Most days are the same. Time has grown increasingly difficult to keep track of. Keeping up with daily activities and adhering to a healthy, regular sleep schedule allows us to keep track of each day’s progression.

The more quarantine interrupts our regular daily routines, the more aware we are of what we used to do every day. Simply because everyone is stuck at home for so long, our typical daily practices do not need to be stalled. The order that comes with daily tasks works well in fighting the anxiety of living in the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there are new limitations on our lives as a result of quarantine, life in no way has to stop moving. The new normal is only as abnormal as one lets it be.


Krans, Brian. “Steps to Help You Keep a Daily Routine During the COVID-19 Outbreak.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 13 Apr. 2020,

Rivers, Megan. “Maintaining Routines Important While Social Distancing during COVID-19 Pandemic, Expert Says.” wusa9.Com, 23 Mar. 2020,

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Social Distancing and Mental Health

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(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

Social distancing, the practice of avoiding large groups and close contact with others to protect the spread of disease to vulnerable groups, has become a commonly used phrase during the COVID-19 pandemic. With so much extra time spent at home, some may find themselves anxious and/or restless. While we may miss a lot from being out and about or adhering to our typical daily routines, being at home does not need to be so painfully dull.

First and foremost, electrical lighting has been shown to disrupt one’s natural rhythms, as opposed to natural light (Heid). Stepping out into the sunlight, even in the backyard, helps regulate one’s mood, energy, appetite, and sleep schedule by alerting the body it is no longer time to be groggy and asleep. In addition to meditation, spending time in greenery relaxes one’s mind and restores a sense of focus (Heid).

Additionally, distracting oneself with artistic activities or calling friends, as well as sticking to a temporary at-home routine reduces anxiety and establishes some degree of normalcy during these times (Ao). Personal connections do not need to suffer due to social distancing; checking up on friends is not a bad idea when considering they are likely just as restless as you!

Keeping up with one’s wellness and mindfulness aids immensely in making this situation at least a little bit more bearable. Taking extra measures to ensure you are getting proper amounts of sunlight, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, keeping busy, and keeping track of basic needs is crucial even when stuck at home for extended periods of time. Social distancing does not have to take away from social needs as well. Contacting friends and family members from home regularly is a healthy habit to pick up right now. And, of course, stay safe, and wash your hands!


Ao, Bethany. “Social Distancing Can Strain Mental Health. Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC, 23 Mar. 2020,

Heid, Markham. “You Asked: Is It Bad to Be Inside All Day?” Time, 27 Apr. 2016,

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