Pandemic Alcohol Use: Casual or Concerning?
National Recovery Month September 2020
Summary by Dr. Gina Lynem-Walker, associate medical director, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
The purchase and consumption of alcohol have increased significantly in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. 16% of adults say they’re drinking more during the pandemic.
How much is too much?
- Moderate alcohol consumption is one drink/day for women and up to two drinks/day for men
- A drink is defined as:
- 5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor
- 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
- 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
- 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
Finding healthy ways to cope with stress
- Many people use alcohol to deal with stress because it temporarily boosts feel-good chemicals.
- Heavy drinking can increase anxiety. Alcohol is a depressant.
- Address the root cause of chronic stress by seeking help from a mental health professional.
Try healthy ways to unwind:
- Hobbies such as art, crafts, music, or reading
- Talking to a friend, partner, or loved one
Identifying problematic habits
- Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a treatable, chronic disease.
- Review criteria for AUD diagnosis to see if alcohol has become a bigger problem.
How to get help
- Talking to a primary care physician is a good first step in assessing whether alcohol consumption is problematic and for referrals to additional treatment, if necessary.
- Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
About the Author
Dr. Gina Lynem-Walker
Dr. Gina Lynem-Walker is an associate medical director with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She has been with the company for nearly 20 years. Her specialty is general internal medicine.
She remains on staff at the Henry Ford Health system where she works as a contingent physician in Urgent Care and where she got her first job out of residency in 1994. During her years at BCBSM she has worked in Quality, Auditing, Utilization, Care and Disease Management.
Dr. Lynem-Walker remains active with the Wayne State University Medical School alumni and recently completed 3 years on their board of directors. Dr. Lynem-Walker is a wife, mother of two and a lover of gardening, reading, crafts, music and travel.