Alarming number of women are drinking more during the pandemic

Author: Abbie Alford (Reporter)

SAN DIEGO — During the pandemic, several studies found that Americans are drinking far more than they did in previous years and it’s women who are drinking more. While women may joke with their girlfriends that they are drinking a lot more during the pandemic, an alarming number of women are becoming heavy drinkers and they may not know they are sipping down a dangerous path.

As a woman in recovery put it, isolation is the worst thing for alcoholics. 

Joanne is a mother of six and turned to Alcoholics Anonymous for support prior to the pandemic but says the reason she drank is similar to why people are drinking during the pandemic. “It is alcohol’s best friend,” said Joanne. “You think you can control it, you think you know and then before you know it, it’s crept up on you. It starts getting away from interaction with adults.”

study published last fall by the Rand Research Corporation found Americans drank 14% more during the same time period the year before. The study found drinking among women went up 41%. The CDC says four or more drinks in a two-hour period is considered heaving drinking for women. 

“Typically women are trying to do more,” said Serene Carruthers, M.S., Director for the Sharp McDonald Center.

She says anecdotally she is noticing more women are in the Sharp McDonald detox program than men which is rare but understandable since women are taking on more roles than just supermom, wife, and employee. They are now virtual teacher; hall monitor and lunch lady.

“Many of the social avenues they would use to manage life, the socializing, the exercising and those things have gone to the wayside due to COVID,” said Carruthers.

At the Hazelden Betty Ford Center in San Diego, Director Dr. Brian Couey says women often ignore addiction because there’s a stigma that they’re weak or failing.

“You don’t want to be considered a bad mother, it’s kind of worse than being a bad person, so it’s harder to talk about those things,” said Couey.

Alcoholism doesn’t happen overnight, substance abuse doctors say one drink gradually leads to another heavier drink.

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