In an online Newsweek article dated 4/1/20, a headline read, “U.S. Alcohol Sales Increase 55% in One Week Amid Coronavirus Pandemic”. According to Jade Bremner‘s article, this information came from Nielsen market research for the week ending 3/21/20. Favorites included hard liquor, such as tequila and gin, as well as cocktails. Spirits sales increased by 75%, compared to the same dates in 2019, with beer purchases up by 66% and wine up by 42%. One restaurant owner speculated that, with the stay-at-home orders, people have more time on their hands to cook special meals and would like to have a bottle of wine (assuming there’s more than one person at the table) with the meal. Trends like virtual parties and happy hours have added to the “need” to purchase alcohol for home consumption. This article is only one of many that reveals the reality of this current time.
In the Prevention field, the concern is how our youth are affected. “Talk. They Hear You” is a substance use prevention theme of SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), and the “What You Can Do to Prevent Your Child From Drinking” parent resource makes it clear that there are certain factors that may increase the risk of a child’s alcohol use. These include significant social transitions, such as graduating to middle or high school or getting a driver’s license; a history of social and emotional problems; depression and other serious emotional problems; a family history of alcoholism; and contact with peers involved in troubling activities. At this time, many youth are experiencing feelings of loss and anxiety at the disruption of a daily school schedule and fear of the unknown. Although many youth tend to be adaptable and resilient, cancellations of special events such as prom and graduation will be more difficult for some to overcome the disappointment than others. They may be tempted to self-medicate out of boredom or as a coping mechanism. Parents and other adults need to be sensitive to each child’s feelings and behaviors, and can be a positive role model by not giving alcohol to their children, whose brains and bodies are not fully developed until their mid-twenties, and showing youth that adults don’t need alcohol to cope with stressful situations. If liquor is kept in the home, it should be locked in a cabinet, as a connection exists between alcohol use and accessibility. Engaging in positive behaviors, such as physical and mental exercises, is a good way to bond with youth and find out their sense of reality during this challenging time. Rewarding young people’s decision not to drink, monitoring their activities, setting clear rules about not using alcohol, and remembering that young people are influenced by the actions of their parents and other significant adults, are all strategies designed to keep our youth well-balanced and healthy.
Help is available locally for youth or adults who may have an issue with alcohol. Contact the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse at 585-593-6738. For more information on prevention tips, including how to start the conversation with youth, go to New York’s Office of Addiction Services and Support’s Talk2Prevent. Remember, prevention works, and everyone can make a difference in a child’s life!