Alcohol consumption on the rise during COVID-19

CHARLOTTE — Action 9's Jason Stoogenke asked Mecklenburg County’s ABC Board for its April numbers

Sales at restaurants and bars were down more than $5 million compared to last April, but sales for customers were up $1.2 million,” Mecklenburg County ABC Board officials told Action 9’s Jason Stoogenke.

Drizly, a major online beer, wine and liquor supplier said, “The beverage-alcohol industry is experiencing unprecedented demand.”

In fact, it said sales were almost 400% higher last week than expected, and new customers went from 15% to more than 40%.

Graham Worth is one of the owners of Common Market, and he told Stoogenke April's alcohol sales are up a little over 25% relative to last year.

Stoogenke came across several reasons for the uptick in drinking that include:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Boredom.
  • People are working from home more
  • People aren’t spending money and time on other forms of entertainment, such as sporting events, movie theaters and travel
  • Some people said they are trying to spice up their home life by bringing the “restaurant to them.”

"Maybe they would spend $100 a week at a restaurant on alcohol. Those funds have now been diverted to something that they would consume at home," Graham said.

While many drink alcohol in a healthy way, experts expect more people to struggle with alcohol during this time.

Stoogenke read at least four studies, which looked at drinking during the Great Recession. The studies support what you probably have guessed and that is the fact that people drank more.

A substance abuse counselor messaged Stoogenke on Facebook and said she’s already seeing more “hospital detox stays.”

"Any adjustment, even if it’s a healthy adjustment, getting married, having a kid, can be really stressful,” said Patrick Collins, who is a substance abuse counselor at Presbyterian Psychological Services.

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“So, this is a really tough adjustment for a lot of people, who lost their jobs, who are trying to maintain a home life, their work life if they’re still working, take care of kids, teach kids."

Collins referred Stoogenke to CDC guidelines on moderate drinking.

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“A kind of good measure of whether your drinking is in the healthy range is, for men, it’s two drinks a day so 14 a week. And then a drink is considered a 12-ounce beer of 5% alcohol, 15-ounce glass of wine or an ounce-and-a-half of 80 proof liquor,” Collins said. “So, two of those for men a day or 14 a week. One of those for women a day or seven a week is considered moderate drinking."

Last month, leading mental health organizations sent the U.S. Congress a letter that said they were worried about more behavioral health problems surfacing during the pandemic, including substance abuse.

They urged lawmakers to provide more funding to save facilities that struggling to stay open and expand programs.

Last week, many of the same groups sent the Trump Administration a letter making similar points.

They said 80% of mental health providers in South Carolina probably won’t be able to stay open past July.

CLICK HERE for mental health resources.