'Pandemic drinking' among women increases, survey finds

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For 75 years, the Council on Recovery has been providing help to those with a substance abuse disorder, providing support and hope to those suffering from addiction.

Throughout this pandemic, drinking among Americans has been on the rise, with some states, like Texas, allowing alcohol deliveries in an effort to help small businesses make sales.

For women in particular, the availability of alcohol, mixed with an already steady increase of drinking, has exposed a growing substance abuse problem.

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"The additional burdens, a lot of women are trying to work from home, and take care of multiple children from home, and still be the primary caretaker of the home," said Mary Beck, the executive vice president at the council.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Maryland published the results of a survey, conducted in May 2020, that provided a glimpse into alcohol consumption during the pandemic.

The majority of the 832 participants were white women, who reported a 60% increase in drinking habits during the pandemic.

The survey found 45% said it was due to increased stress, 34% said it was due to the availability of the alcohol, and 30% said boredom.

Beck points out that social media is flooded with images of women making jokes about their drinking, which can normalize the behavior and send the wrong message to those dealing with a substance abuse disorder.

"I definitely see where these women are posting about it and their intent is good fun, but they don't understand the implications of what is happening," Beck said.

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Here are some questions to ask yourself if you think you may need help:
  • Are you thinking about drinking throughout the day?
  • Is drinking preoccupying your time?
  • Is your drinking interfering with your happiness and doing things you've enjoyed?


If your answers to these questions are yes, it may be time to reach out for help. If you're concerned for a loved one, it may be time to speak up and have a conversation.

Beck advises that conversations around someone's substance use should not be an argument or a time to accuse someone of shortcomings or failures. The conversation should come from a supportive and loving place, which will encourage someone to make the first phone call to change their life.

She advises starting the conversation like this:

"'You know we love you, and we know that you've expressed your dreams and vision for your life, and you don't seem to be living that,'" Beck said.

To reach out for help, call 713-942-4100 or visit councilonrecovery.org.

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