As quarantine continues to establish itself as the new normal, the majority of us are experiencing unfamiliar concepts. Boredom, free time, and unfamiliar anxiety, to name a few. With all of the humorous coronavirus content online, it’s normal to feel the effects of alcohol romanticism. Maybe you’re dealing with parenting, navigating working from home, or just looking to kill time. Regardless of the situation, drinking doesn’t need to be part of your coping mechanism.
Alcohol weakens your immune system
Drinking alcohol can, over time, weaken the cells that line your respiratory tract. Excessive alcohol consumption can make you more susceptible to pneumonia and acute respiratory stress syndromes. In other words, it can potentially compromise your immune system in a way that you don’t want to be worrying about. Especially during a global pandemic.
Alcohol negatively affects your general health
Alcohol directly affects our central nervous system and its functions. Primarily, it affects the cerebellum (back of the brain), which is in charge of our mobility. This is why we have trouble walking in a straight line without stumbling around when under the influence. Alcohol also affects our frontal lobe (our speech), which explains why we slur our words when drunk. More commonly, heavy drinking can wear out the liver and kidneys. If these key organs become worn out, it can be life-threatening.
Alcohol disrupts your sleep schedule
Lots of people will claim that drinking makes them sleepy and ready for bed. While it may sometimes help you get to sleep faster, it also lessens your quality of sleep and increases your chances of waking up in the middle of the night. A mediocre night sleep means feeling unrested and groggy the next day, which leads to feeling depressed and sometimes anxious. From there a vicious cycle of feeling both tired and down begins. Alcohol can also suppress breathing while you are asleep, and this can contribute to issues with sleep apnea later on.
Alcohol increases feelings of anxiety and depression
Over time, alcohol contributes to feelings of depression and anxiety and in turn, makes it more difficult to cope with feelings of stress and anxiety. Even though we may feel very happy and free while under the influence, alcohol is a known depressant. Studies show that heavy drinkers are more likely to suffer from mental health problems. During times like these, COVID-19, a lot of us are already struggling with feelings of anxiety and isolation during quarantine. Adding the negative mental effects of alcohol consumption to the mix is a sure way to worsen the situation.
Alcohol can be hard to say “no” to
Alcohol boosts dopamine production, which tricks the brain into thinking that it feels happy and amazing, causing us to want to drink more. The more we drink, the higher our tolerance builds up, which in turn makes us need even more alcohol to experience its desired effects. A now heavy drinker will start to crave more alcohol over time to feel these effects more consistently. In a quarantine setting where time becomes obsolete, it can be hard to limit yourself to just one drink. Before you know it, drinking every day doesn’t seem like such a big deal and it becomes an easy way to pass the time.
It’s important to note that…
Finding healthier ways to cope that don’t involve alcohol can seem like a daunting task. All it has to mean is that you feel a little bit better than where you started. Click here for ideas on what you can do to help you out during these uncertain times. To read up on how beneficial cutting alcohol out can be, click here.
Now, more than ever, we must maintain contact with our friends, family, and loved ones. Social distancing doesn’t mean a stop in communication. Sharing our feelings and concerns and participating in online self-help and therapy groups can help us maintain a sense of community and normalcy. In other words, the antidote to the isolation and loneliness we may be experiencing during this time. Portage maintains its therapeutic support to clientele (pre-admission, aftercare, family) through scheduled virtual group sessions and individual distant counselling. You do not need to struggle alone.
For more information on what Portage is doing to keep you informed on COVID-19, click here.