LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With job loss and more time alone at home during the pandemic, some people have started drinking more alcohol in 2020.
“We have not seen this, you know? Masked and social distancing and groups being taken away and sporting events being taken away for a time, and so many people (ask), ‘What do I do? How do I cope,'" said Shannon Gray, program manager at The Healing Place, a nationally-recognized, no-cost recovery center in Kentucky.
Gray, who said he has been sober from alcohol since July 17, 2001, explained there are three types of alcohol users.
The majority of the population, he said, are social drinkers.
Those people have a glass of wine with dinner and maybe party a little harder on New Year’s Eve, but then they wake-up the next morning and are done drinking for awhile.
The second type of alcohol user, Gray said, is a hard drinker or abuser.
That person has more than a few drinks and abuses alcohol at times.
“If a sufficient reason comes along, a baby, an arrest, a marriage, you know, they are able to stop and/or moderate, OK, so there’s an element of control there,” Gray explained.
The third type, he said, is an alcoholic or someone who has tried to stop drinking but can’t.
“What can happen in the pandemic is a social drinker with more free time can probably turn into an abuser (or hard drinker),” Gray said. “And it’s one thing to enjoy. It’s one thing to have fun. But when you start using it as maybe a possible solution to your problems that’s when it can become a problem.”
If one has set a New Year’s resolution to drink less alcohol, Gray advises focusing more on a lifestyle change.
“Any resolution you have, if you would not look at it as, ‘I need to stop this or I need to start that.’ I just need to change my behavior,” Gray said.
He also said to look at the reasons for increased drinking.
“Why am I not so happy? Why am I not this? Why am I turning to this in the first place? What are my reasons for drinking? And then, you can start to see … Is this necessary?”
Gray also said to focus one day at a time on making behavior changes and to reduce drinking in steps.
For example, if one is drinking five drinks a day, try reducing it to three drinks per day.
“If you’re drinking Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, hypothetically, take it down to two nights. You know, take it down to one (night),” Gray said. “And, again, like I said, to me, to just stop doing it is easier said than done because it’s a difficult time.
Gray said it’s also important to find healthy habits to replace drinking, such as exercise.
“It’s kind of replacing that void because if you are drinking more, you are using this to fill a void so trying to put healthy habits within that void and that, again, simplifies it,” Gray told Spectrum News 1.
Gray also said fellowship is key by connecting with family and friends.
“We’re going to get through it. You’ve probably gotten through worse, but you don’t know that at the time, and so the more reassurance you get from (the) help of others, I just can’t emphasize that enough. It is not good to be alone,” Gray said.
Gray also explained that if someone makes a decision to change their drinking habits and takes steps to make changes but can’t, then that could be a sign that it’s time to get help.
According to The Healing Place’s website, these are questions to ask yourself honestly to tell if you’re an alcoholic or addict.
- Have you ever tried to cut down on your drug or alcohol usage?
- Has your drinking or drug use ever annoyed a friend or relative?
- Do you ever feel guilty about your drug or alcohol use?
- Have you ever used drugs or alcohol as an “eye-opener” in the morning?
If you answer “yes” to two or more of these questions, it may be time to seek help.
Despite COVID-19, The Healing Place is still offering its services at all levels of their no-cost program, including detox and the overnight shelter with additional admission screenings.
For more information, The Healing Place can be reached at 502-585-4848.
For those who want help or have questions about treatment or recovery available in Kentucky, they can call 877-318-1871 to speak with a screening and referral specialist Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST/EDT.
If it’s after hours, The Kentucky Opioid and Assistance Resources Hotline can be reached at 1-800-854-6813. You can also visit findhelpnowky.org or text HOPE to 96714.