Alcohol abuse dramatically increased following the outbreak of COVID-19 -- according to multiple studies

A new study by the RAND Corporation shows that alcohol consumption rose among adults over age 30 by 14% during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 41% increase in women heavily drinking. The strain also took a toll on those already coping with addictions, spiking relapse and overdose rates.

The results of the study followed the loosening of liquor laws in dozens of states as a coping method for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic that has, so far, gone on almost three years. Newly relaxed laws that included "cocktails-to-go laws, which allow consumers to pick up mixed cocktails, beer or wine at their local pub or restaurant, and direct-to-consumer laws that allow grocery stores or liquor stores — and sometimes distillers, brewers or winemakers — to deliver alcoholic beverages directly to people’s homes," The Washington Post reported.

Another study conducted by analytics firm The Harris Poll and commissioned by Alkermes, an Ireland-based biopharmaceutical company, found that about 17% of respondents reported "heavy drinking," which is classified having had two heavy drinking days in a single week at least twice in the previous 30 days.

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Yet a third study by researchers at the University of Arizona revealed "dramatic increases in harmful alcohol consumption" over the first six months of the pandemic. The study also reported that greater alcohol consumption was most associated with job loss because of COVID-19.

"Anxiety, prolonged uncertainty, loss and isolation during the pandemic, COVID-19 blurred those lines for many," Colleen M. Ryan, MD, wrote for Cedars-Sinai. "That unknown is when we as humans tend to want to get numb to soothe. Alcohol makes you feel better when you're drinking it, although the after-effect is not so soothing."