How to stop day drinking and change bad pandemic habits related to alcohol use and abuse – UCHealth Today

How to stop day drinking and change bad pandemic habits related to alcohol use and abuse – UCHealth Today

Many people want to know how to stop day drinking after it became much more common during the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images.

Along with perma-sweatpants, too much sourdough bread and endless binges on Netflix, day drinking became a thing during the pandemic.

And now, many people are asking how to stop day drinking.

But it can be tough to ditch day drinking and other bad habits related to alcohol that many people picked up during the pandemic. That’s because everyone lost their routines overnight when the pandemic forced lockdowns in the spring of 2020. We had to create new routines out of nothing. And some of the bad habits are sticking.

While some people adopted healthier routines like exercising more and spending quality time with family members, many others felt exhausted, lonely, overworked and depressed.

And some turned to day drinking, once common only for Sunday brunches or vacations at the beach.

Working at home for months on end meant easy access to the wine fridge or the liquor cabinet. Happy hours slid earlier and earlier.  Amid loneliness and uncertainty, beer, wine and liquor seemed like good company for some people at all hours of the day.

Vanessa Rollins is a psychologist who cares for patients at UCHeath Family Medicine in Boulder. She has a doctorate in psychology and together with behavioral health colleagues and primary care providers, Rollins provides mental health and counseling services to patients of all ages, from children to older adults.

Many of Rollins’ patients have reported that they have been day drinking or consuming too much alcohol at all hours throughout the pandemic.

“The rationale we hear is ‘I could drink because I was home. I never in a million years would have thought about having a drink during a workday. But, now I’m home, it’s 3 p.m. and I’m stressed and bored. I’m just working on the computer anyway,’” said Rollins, who is also an assistant professor of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Soon, a rare drink became a new habit: regular day drinking.

Day drinking became a coping mechanism, Rollins said.

“Increased alcohol consumption is just one of the many unhealthy behaviors that people might have picked up during the pandemic,” Rollins said. “It has been something to do to pass the time, to feel less bored, tired, lonely or sad.”

Vanessa Rollins is a psychologist who helps people with a variety of mental and behavioral health challenges. Many patients have reported that they’ve been “day drinking” and many want help stopping now. Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon for UCHealth.

It’s too early to know all of the impacts that the pandemic has had on alcohol use in the U.S. The newest comprehensive statistics on alcohol use and abuse in the U.S. date from 2019.

But, early studies like this one in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health have confirmed what Rollins has experienced in her clinic: Alcohol use has spiked during the pandemic. The researchers found that nearly two-thirds of study participants reported that their drinking had increased after the pandemic began. …….


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