If there is one word that capably sums up the COVID-19 pandemic, it is “unprecedented”. Very few people in the developed world have lived through any other experience like it. Just one year before, the prospect of being cooped up at home for months on end was unimaginable. Everyone and everything felt unstable, and many people found themselves forced into a prolonged state of solitude. Not surprisingly, alcohol sales skyrocketed throughout this time. In part, people drank more because they felt unsure, uneasy, and depressed.
However, they also had more time on their hands, limited opportunities for meaningful social interaction, and sudden and often dramatic increases in personal and financial stress. If you started drinking too much during the pandemic, learning how to correct the course of your alcohol use may require outside help. Many people who never believed themselves capable of alcohol abuse or outright alcohol addiction are now finding it hard to bring their drinking back under control.
Understanding the Developmental Stages of Alcohol Addiction
One of the most important things to know about alcohol addiction is that it doesn’t occur overnight. For most people, it isn’t a conscious free-fall into unhealthy levels of alcohol use. Instead, it usually develops in gradual phases and often, without people realizing that they’re heading increasingly closer to a dangerous precipice. In normal circumstances, alcohol consumption begins as a largely social activity. People are in the experimental phase of alcohol use when they have a drink or two with friends. When imbibing becomes a semi-regular part of their social experiences, this is known as recreational alcohol use. As the neurological and physical conditions for addiction slowly fall in place, some people proceed to regular or daily use. With daily use, alcohol becomes a more important part of their lives and daily rituals. Daily users start abusing alcohol when the adverse consequences of drinking crop up, but don’t deter them from drinking more. A person has become fully addicted or physically and chemically dependent upon alcohol when:
- They cannot stop drinking without experiencing withdrawal symptoms
- They think obsessively about drinking
- They are unable to control how much they drink
If any of these sound familiar, going to rehab is a safe and easy way to reclaim your personal freedom and health.
Steps Were Often Skipped During the Pandemic
For many people, the path to alcohol addiction looked quite different during the pandemic. Experimental and recreational drinking didn’t happen in social environments. More importantly, there were no social cues or social checks that helped keep drinking under control. In quarantine, many people were both living alone and drinking alone. For some, the move to daily drinking and alcohol abuse was ultra-rapid. For others, excessive or binge drinking quickly became the norm.
Depression, Anxiety, and Trauma Play Important Roles in Alcohol Addiction
Unmanaged stress, depression, and anxiety all play key roles in the development of alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, many people were subject to all of these things and in overwhelming abundance. Quarantining, fear, and sudden and dramatic life changes were also incredibly traumatic. Within a matter of days, everyone’s lives were disrupted. Absent of healthy coping tools, it was not uncommon for people to turn to alcohol as a means for alleviating their distress.
How Professional Addiction Treatment Can Help
If you’ve been abusing alcohol or are now outright addicted, willpower is not the solution. Attempting to muscle through the detox process on willpower alone is actually quite dangerous. Moreover, it won’t address the underlying causes of your addiction. Although the initial stages of the pandemic are over and prolonged quarantines are a thing of the past, the sudden trauma and general upset that they created can still remain. Going to treatment won’t just give you the benefit of a safe, comfortable, and medically assisted detox. It will also give you access to both group and individual therapy. Different options in the behavioral therapy that rehab centers provide help patients:
- Develop healthy coping skills
- Increase their distress tolerance
- Gain validation for their trauma
- Improve their self-esteem
- Establish plans for preventing relapse
Cleaning up, reordering, and essentially reclaiming your life after the pandemic isn’t easy. However, it’s guaranteed to be especially challenging if you’re simultaneously battling an untreated addiction. If you need help finding the right inpatient or outpatient rehab for alcohol use disorder, we’re here to provide it. Get in touch with us now by calling 772-266-5320.