At-Home Alcohol Consumption Doubles During the Pandemic

Is anyone surprised by this headline? And while it implies that our per capita consumption has also risen, that’s not always the case. Drinking at home has also increased because bars and restaurants are closed so some of the implied increase is a change of location rather than a change in quantity.

Having noted that confounding factor, I hasten to add that the reports we receive from clients, would be clients, friends and family, do indicate that, generally, consumption is going up.


Obviously boredom is a major contributing factor. And boredom is exacerbated by the duration of the pandemic. Most of us have reached our limit on stay-at-home activities ranging from reading to movies, jigsaw puzzles, two handed card games, board games, needle work, crocheting, models, and all of the other things we were going to do when we found the time.

Well, we found the time, did as much as we could stand, and burned out.

Now what?

Several new clients stated that they decided to tackle their alcohol use now because, one, they didn’t like the increase; two, they had the time; and, three, they could focus on the problem more easily.

Admittedly these factors are enhanced by our client demographics. For the most part out clients are in their 50s and 60s and not trying to manage working from home plus home schooling plus all of the demands of young families. Nor are they succumbing to financial ruin.

Still, if you do fit with our client base, you might want to consider viewing these times as an opportunity.

As Epictetus, the father of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, noted some 2,000 years ago, “What upsets people is not things themselves but their judgements about these things.”

Granted it’s difficult to find rainbows in the current public health and political disasters, but it helps to try a bit. Even modest perspective shifts can brighten a day as, in my case, homebound by a year’s knee surgeries, it’s good to reflect that I couldn’t be out and about even if my left leg worked. That does make a year’s rehabilitation more palatable.

That is also what our current clients have decided: Let’s do something productive so when this eventually ends we’ll be in better shape to enjoy life, not worse.

Naltrexone Questions:

Last week’s article on Naltrexone generated a couple of questions:

#1. What about the Sinclair Method?

This refers to a Scandinavian report that “alcoholism” could be “cured” by the use of Naltrexone alone. The theory is, take Naltrexone whenever you plan to drink, you won’t get a “buzz,” and with no reward you will automatically quit drinking. It’s a rather reverse Pavlovian method.

Trouble is, no one has been able to replicate the reported successes – including our clients who opted to try that route.

Why not? First because when people stopped getting the desired buzz they didn’t quit drinking, they quit taking the Naltrexone. This is so logical, and human, it’s hard to imagine any other outcome. It’s a variation on the Uber/Lift phenomena which saw DUI numbers plummet, not because people stopped drinking but because they quit driving!

A second concern had to do with what does happen when one eventually stops taking the medication.

The usual result, given that the issues being medicated are being resolved, habit patterns are being replaced, brainwashing has been deprogrammed, and the results are generally positive, is that the Naltrexone support is no longer needed, so there isn’t a crash back to the bad old days. Naltrexone didn’t “fix” it – you did.

Good for you!