Is Alcohol an Essential Purchase During the Pandemic?

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Evidence-Based Care
Expert Staff


When it came to booze, Americans were fortunate that supply could keep up with an unrelenting demand when lockdowns were imposed. Which is surprising as a significant amount of those surveyed believe that a having a bottle or two in their shopping basket would take precedent over toilet roll. When they were set a hypothetical situation and asked if they only had enough money to purchase either rolls of soft cotton squares, or alcohol, 25% said they would choose the latter.

Pandemic Prohibition? Again, respondents were asked, hypothetically, if liquor sales had been banned during the pandemic in the US (as occurred in some other countries), would they have broken the rules? Almost half (44%) of drinkers say they would have found ways around the ban… Gin Rickey anyone?

Not surprisingly, given the stressful times many people have gone through, the research revealed the extent to which people have used alcohol as a coping mechanism since the beginning of the pandemic. Men appeared to have used alcohol more for this purpose than women – when asked to rank how difficult the pandemic would have been without alcohol on a scale of 1-10, men would have ranked it at 6/10 without the availability of alcohol, and women would have ranked it a 4.

If presented with a binary choice between only having access to either hard liquor (such as vodka, whisky and rum) or lighter drinks such as beer and wine, a significant 25% said they would opt for the former – perhaps due to the quicker acting effects.

Finally, American Addiction Centers delved into alcohol’s impact during the pandemic on relationships. It’s widely known that alcohol has the ability to make people lose their inhibitions, and potentially fueling anger and arguments between people in relationships during the pandemic. In fact, nearly half (48%) of those in relationships say alcohol has hindered their relationship during lockdown. Perhaps this has something to do with nearly 1 in 5 partners admitting to keeping their drinking a secret from their partner during lockdown.

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