COVID19 consequences drive rise in purchases and compulsive drinking.

By Cashia Kirksey

Friends of Brianna Nelms say she is a generous woman. The 34-year-old said before the pandemic she loved going out with her friends to clubs, to dance, hookah lounges and restaurants, when she could find the time.

Nelms is a mother of three, who says she finds herself drinking more than she ever did before the pandemic.

Illustration by Stephanie Ko

“Once I’m done with my work and my kids are done with their virtual learning for the day, the only thing I want to do is sit back and have a drink,” Nelms said.

Nelms struggles with working from home while homeschooling her three young children.

A lot of work is being done at home because of the pandemic. Schools are shut down and students are learning at home. Many employers laid off workers, decreased hours of operation, or moved employees’ work home.

Thanks to the pandemic, people have a lot of free time to indulge hobbies or turn to vice. Some may be overwhelmed by the economy. Others face the sickness or the death of loved ones and may choose to escape their trouble with a drink.

One survey by Triangle Business Journal reported alcohol consumption on the rise across the nation.

Another Neilson report from May 6 sparked an increase in alcohol sales and consumption.

In her May 26 New York Times article “Could All Those ‘Quarantinis’ Lead to Drinking Problems?” Maria Cramer wrote about the risks of pandemic drinking.

“But addiction experts say they are worried it could also trigger more serious drinking problems and even create new ones for people who have never struggled with alcohol dependency before,” Cramer wrote.

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends women limit themselves to one drink per day and men two.

Since March, people are consuming more alcohol than they did over the same period last year, the Triangle Business Survey documented. People like Nelms are drinking more alcohol and doing it more often.

“I know I’m drinking way more than I ever have, and I know I need to slow down, but drinking is my only escape right now,” Nelms said.

In the Triangle Business Journal, Seth Gulledge reported an increase of alcohol consumption in adults in his July 20 article, “Pandemic drives up alcohol use across America, RTI survey finds.”

The results of the survey showed that 27% of respondents increased the number of “more than usual” drinking days with an additional 4.5 drinks.

Because of California’s “stay at home” orders, most restaurants and bars are closed indefinitely.

Despite the closures, alcohol consumption is up. Alcohol, beer, and wine sales have increased during this pandemic, a Nielson report found.

PBS SOCAL’s Larry Altman reported an increase of alcohol sales since April in, “Alcohol Sales, Especially Online, Shoot Up During Stay-At-Home Orders; Will it Last?”

“The Nielsen research company found alcoholic beverage sales for the week ending March 21, right after the initial stay-at-home orders went into effect, rose 55% as Americans stocked up.

The company reported wine sales increasing 66%, beer 42%, and spirits 75%,” Altman wrote.

Nielsen found despite bar closures in the lockdown, people are ordering from online sources and even stocking up. They reported online sales of alcohol shot up 339% and brick-and-mortar alcohol sales went up 41% by May 9.

A lot of people like Brianna Nelms are stuck at home with nothing better to do than to drink. The pressure of living life during this pandemic is causing people to consume an increasing amount of alcohol. The outcome of alcohol consumption may be beneficial for the industries of wine, beer, and spirits, but not everyday people who are drinking it.

“The amount of money I’m spending on liquor is my biggest issue,” Nelms said. “I’m spending double the money I normally would.”