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Alcohol consumption

COVID-19 and Alcohol: Effects of Alcohol Consumption During COVID-19

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus was declared a pandemic, and people were asked to stay at home in an attempt to hinder the virus from spreading. This forced lockdown took a toll on people worldwide, and most sought ways to handle the psychological stress that came with it. Some went about it the healthy way, turning to exercise, picking up new hobbies, self-care, and other relaxation strategies. Some others, however, took to drinking, smoking, overeating, oversleeping, and other habits that generally would be avoided. 

While scientists and medical experts worldwide worked to find a cure or vaccine, several myths about possible homemade remedies or treatments for COVID-19 surfaced online. Some false medicines include vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, the keto diet, bleach or disinfectants, and alcohol.

For this article, we’d be addressing alcohol intake during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to the intake of drinking alcohol, no matter the type, it is essential to note that it has effects on almost every body organ, either short-term or long-term. There is also evidence that suggests that there is no safe limit when it comes to the consumption of alcohol. Even when taken in small quantities, alcohol is known to cause certain types of cancer. It also alters one’s behaviour, thoughts, judgement, and ability to make sound decisions.

Alcohol is known to debilitate the immune system, especially with heavy use, reducing one’s ability to cope with infectious diseases. It can also increase the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and this is one of the most severe complications of COVID-19.

During the height of the pandemic, there were myths that alcohol could serve as protection against the COVID-19 pandemic. One of such myths was that consuming alcohol destroys the virus that causes COVID-19. This statement is false because alcohol cannot kill the virus, and drinking it is likely to put a person at greater risk if infected. Alcohol, at certain concentration levels, works as a disinfectant on the skin but does not do any good to the body.

Another popular myth was that drinking strong alcohol kills the virus in the inhaled air. This statement is false because alcohol cannot kill the virus in the inhaled air, nor can it disinfect one’s mouth and throat. It does not give any protection against COVID-19. 

Unfortunately, some still believe such myths and see no need to get the COVID-19 vaccine or get tested when they see symptoms of the virus, be it the same-day COVID test or tests carried out with the home test kit. 

With the relaxation of the restrictions put in place, alcohol consumption is to be avoided as it can lead to violations of quarantine and social distancing rules. Alcohol can serve as a social cue, bringing people together in bars, restaurants, and other places, increasing the virus’s transmission risk. It can also encourage smoking, and this is dangerous as smoking also increases health risks, making it hard for one to fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

Alcohol consumption can also lead to an increase in domestic violence. Alcohol is linked with violence, and with more people at home, it could increase the frequency of this violence.

Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest an increase in alcohol consumption in women during the pandemic. This can lead to a rise in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) rates in the future. This disorder is characterised by neuro-developmental deficiencies, learning disabilities, and behavioural problems.

While alcohol consumption is a way to relax for some people, there being no benefit to alcohol consumption, coupled with the negative effect it has on behaviour, it is advised that people refrain from consuming alcohol.

People are advised to increase physical activity, strengthening the immune system and overall well-being. It is also recommended that people seek trusted sources of information, and double-check the information they receive, so as not to fall victim to circulated myths and rumours.