COVID-19 pandemic: Study finds many employees working from home may use it as ‘an excuse to drink’

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Brentwood, TN — Drinking alcohol while working from home may be an emerging concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 1 out of 3 respondents to a recent survey saying they’re more likely than usual to do so.

Alcohol.org – a resource of the American Addiction Centers, a national provider of addiction treatment services – in late March conducted an online survey of 3,000 U.S. adults working from home “to find out how many are using their new office setup as an excuse to drink.”

In general, 35% of the respondents said they were more likely to consume alcohol while self-isolating, while 22% said they’ve stockpiled alcohol over other food and drink items while isolating. Beer was the beverage of choice for 38% of the respondents, followed by cocktails (26%), wine (21%) and straight spirits (15%).

“These are stressful times as many employees struggle with having to adapt to a home working environment, in which distractions are abundant and alcohol may seem like a good solution,” an alcohol.org spokesperson said on the website. “There are a number of accessible online resources available if you suspect substance addiction, such as support helplines, chat rooms and forums.”

The survey results were published on the website April 2.

Drinking alcohol won’t protect you against COVID-19, experts say

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Bethesda, MD — Although alcohol is a key ingredient in hand sanitizers that can help kill the coronavirus, alcoholic drinks don’t have the same effect and may actually hinder your immune system’s response to COVID-19, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is cautioning consumers.

To be effective against the coronavirus, hand sanitizers must contain at least 60% ethyl alcohol, NIAAA says in a May 12 press release. In contrast, a typical drink is only 0.01% to 0.03% alcohol – “a tiny fraction of the concentration needed to produce an antiseptic action.” A blood-alcohol concentration of 0.4% can be fatal.

“Alcohol misuse makes the body more susceptible to viral infections and can worsen the prognosis,” the institute adds. “Alcohol in the body at the time of exposure to a pathogen tends to impair the body’s immediate immune response to the pathogen, making it easier for an infection to develop.”

Longer term, excessive alcohol consumption impairs the immune system’s response in the lungs and has been linked to acute respiratory distress syndrome. “In fact,” NIAAA says, “individuals who misuse alcohol chronically are more likely to develop ARDS, more likely to need mechanical ventilation, have a prolonged stay in the intensive care unit and have a higher risk of mortality from ARDS. All of these effects of alcohol misuse could certainly complicate COVID-19 prevention, treatment and recovery.”