Nationally, alcohol sales have increased by 54 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the September 2020 issue of JAMA, a national study found that people 18 and older are more likely to drink alcohol. Another 2020 study reported that people under stress related to COVID-19 drank more alcohol and consumed it more frequently.
While alcohol consumption has increased due to the pandemic, it is not a new concern. Alcohol use disorders are the most common substance use disorders worldwide.
According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in the United States:
About 15 million people aged 12 and over had an alcohol use disorder.
85.6% of people aged 18 and over reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives.
25.8% of adults reported binge drinking and 6.3% reported binge drinking in the last month.
For these 12-20 year olds, 7 million people or 18.5 percent of this age group reported drinking alcohol in the last month.
Effects on health and well-being
Alcohol consumption can have a significant impact on your health, as well as your health and safety. Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with 95,000 alcohol-related deaths each year.
The leading causes of death from alcohol-related chronic diseases between 2011 and 2015 were:
Liver disease, including liver cirrhosis and cancer
Heart disease, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, stroke
Cancer of the oral cavity and upper digestive tract
Alcohol use disorders
Long-term alcohol consumption increases the risk of certain cancers, including those of the colon, liver, esophagus, mouth, and breast. In addition, alcohol weakens the immune system and makes it difficult for the body to fight infection, so drinking alcohol will not protect against COVID-19 infection.
The effects of alcohol go beyond disease. People who drink more than twice the binge drinking threshold—five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks in two hours for women—are 70 times more likely to go to the emergency room due to alcohol. In 2019, drunk driving accounted for one-third of all deaths. Accidental injury to minors as a result of alcohol consumption; Sexual violence; excessive consumption of alcohol; and deaths, including motor vehicle accidents.
Effects on your liver
Excessive consumption of alcohol affects the liver and causes three types of liver disease.
Excessive accumulation of fat in the liver is called fatty liver or fatty liver.
Hepatitis or alcoholic hepatitis
Replacement of normal liver tissue with scar tissue or alcoholic cirrhosis
Almost all heavy drinkers develop fatty liver, which is the first stage of alcohol-related liver disease. Most people with fatty liver have no symptoms, although they may experience an enlarged liver or mild discomfort in the upper right side of their abdomen. It is a preventable disease and can be reversed if treated early. The best treatment is for the patient to stop drinking.
About one-third of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis, a condition in which the liver becomes inflamed and swollen, causing liver cells to die. This hepatitis can range from mild to severe, and patients may experience symptoms such as jaundice, fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The mild form persists for many years, and if the patient stops drinking alcohol, the damage to the liver worsens. Severe alcoholic hepatitis usually occurs suddenly after an overdose and can be life-threatening. The only way to prevent this hepatitis from progressing and increasing life expectancy is to stop drinking alcohol.
10-20% of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, a serious disease that usually develops after 10 or more years of drinking. Scar tissue is irreversible as it replaces and accumulates most of the liver cells. Although patients with early cirrhosis may have no symptoms, the condition can progress and significantly damage the liver before it is detected.
Over time, patients develop:
Fatigue, weakness, muscle weakness
Increased liver pressure
Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and legs
Esophageal venous bleeding
Confusion, decreased concentration, and behavioral changes
Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure or liver cancer. At this time, some patients may receive a liver transplant if they meet certain criteria. Even if you don’t drink alcohol