COVID-Stress & the Alcohol Reflex

2020 has been a challenging year for many of us. Adjusting to a new reality, life online, and new ways of working, learning, eating, shopping, and socializing has undoubtedly taken its toll. 

Being kind to your body is one of the best ways to combat the effects of stress due to COVID-19. In reaction to stress, the body speaks through tension, digestion issues, and even nausea. 

Listening to these cues and responding to them with kind eating and exercise (Link to other blog) is a proactive way to reduce stress on your body and decrease the likelihood of leaning on substances to get you through the pandemic.

Managing Stress with Substances

As humans, we are creatures of habit, seeking comfort in familiarity. And in times of stress and anxiety (much like the overwhelming stress of the global pandemic), we humans often revert to our instinctual coping mechanisms. Those in recovery know all too well how alcohol and substance use quickly becomes an instinctual response to stress. 

Much like the reflex to jump when scared, substance use and abuse become a reflex to cope with stress. While relying on substances may bring temporary relief, it does not provide healthy, sustainable ways to cope with and prevent stress in the future. In fact, the adverse effects of substance use and abuse often contribute to increased stressors in other areas of life, physically, emotionally, relationally, financially, and even legally. 

Additionally, due to the powerful nature of the brain-body connection, substance use and abuse under stress reinforce substance use as the body’s reflex reaction to cope with stress. The more one turns to substances under stress, the faster the brain pushes the reflex substance use button in the future.

The Rise in Alcohol Sales

Consumer purchasing patterns have revealed that many Americans have turned to alcohol to cope with the stress of coronavirus. The University of Southern California reported a 55% increase in “alcoholic beverage sales” during March of 2020. Understandably, the global COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine and safety measures would result in increased stress levels. However, this remains a concerning statistic. 

During this time of increased stress, we have been called to respond to the increase in physical, mental/emotional, relational, and financial stress of COVID-19. It is tempting to disengage from all the stress with alcohol or any other substance, to fall back into those old patterns. 

However, with temporary relief comes lifelong consequences, and those consequences are compounded in social isolation.

Breaking patterns of substance use and abuse requires personal motivation, treatment, and trustworthy support systems. You can put down the substance use reflex button. 

Recovery From Alcohol Use Disorders at Washburn House

Give yourself the best chance at sobriety by being kind to your body in these stressful times. Reach out to us today. We want your journey to sobriety to start today and last a lifetime.

Our addiction treatment experts are ready to help you break free of the chains of your alcohol addiction.


Our specialized programs include:


Contact Washburn House at 855.298.3104 today to begin treatment for alcohol use disorder.

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