WHO Says Alcohol Not Good Coping Strategy

What do they know, anyway?

booze alcohol whisky
Photo by Jeff Drongowski under CC BY 2.0 license

Virginia, like many other states and countries, have designated liquor stores essential businesses that can remain open during the anti-COVID-19 social distancing period. Now, some UN agency is saying that’s a bad idea.

NY Post (“WHO thinks alcohol is an ‘unhelpful coping strategy’ for coronavirus cabin fever“):

A World Health Organization official is urging people to lay off the booze — calling it an “unhelpful coping strategy” for cabin fever during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to a new report.

Dr. Aiysha Malik, a technical officer at WHO Europe’s mental health and substance abuse department, acknowledged that many turn to alcohol in times of crisis, according to the Independent.

But turning to the bottle during these times “can make things worse,” Malik cautioned.

“It’s important that the government, alcohol producers and retailers keep reminding us that it’s best to stick to 14 units a week or less,” Malik told the outlet. “With routines out of the window, we might well find ourselves reaching for a drink more often.”

The warning came a day after the UK added liquor stores to the list of “essential businesses” allowed to stay open during lockdown — as they are designated in the Big Apple and some other US cities.

Logically, alcohol only being available for home consumption could lead to an increase in domestic violence and foster dependence, James Morris of South Bank London University’s center for addictive behaviors research told the outlet.

“Predicting the longer-term behavioral impact is however particularly difficult,” he said. “Perhaps for some, home drinking may become more embedded, potentially exacerbated by the further closure of already struggling pubs and bars.”

There’s an old joke that applies to this situation: “I’m not drinking anymore. I’m not drinking any less, either.”

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Health
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Bunch of Commies…

    ReplyReply
  2. Mu Yixiao says:

    Wait… first they tell us to frequently use a 70% alcohol solution, and now they’re saying we shouldn’t?!

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  3. Blue Galangal says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Nice!

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Touche! 🙂 Well done sir. Well done indeed.

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  5. Joe says:

    This is the first good argument I have seen to stop funding the UN.

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  6. Grumpy realist says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Zing!

    This is why people get mad at “nanny organizations.” Yeah yeah yeah some people down the road might have a problem with cutting the alcohol habit but right now I’m going stir-crazy and I’m worried and I’ll take anything that will lower the stress.

    They would have been doing better pointing out that large amounts of alcohol consumption has an effect on the immune system, rather than obsessing about possible future addiction.

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  7. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    At the grocery store yesterday, the guy in front of me commented on how much beer he was buying.

    Guy: “I’ve got an 18-year-old in the house”.
    Cashier: “Oh.. so you’ll have to hide it?”
    Guy: “No. I’m locked in the house with an 18-year-old. I need to drink it.”

    Then we got to talking about liquor stores being “essential businesses”. The cashier (who used to work in emergency health care) commented “At first I thought it was strange, and then I realized… all those alcoholics without a fix? That would fill up the hospital beds!”

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  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Have a set of glasses in cabinet that say: It’s not Drinking Alone if the Dog is Home They’re well used.

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  9. EddieInCA says:

    Eddie’s 3 Step Quarantine Survival Guide

    1. Go to Total Wines or BevMo and stock up on Wine, Whiskey, Rum, Vodka, Gin, and mixers.
    2. Make sure Wife has constant supply of cocktails. Drunk wife, happy wife, happy life.
    3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 as needed.

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  10. Jim Brown 32 says:

    As my Pops says, ” Shhhiiiiidddd….po me anotha one of dem muthaphukkas….”

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  11. Slugger says:

    Human beings are social animals. Solitary confinement is one of the harshest punishments meted out. Right now, I am in a form of solitary. I am reaching out in various ways, but face to face is the best and not available. Alcohol has some hazards for all of us and large hazards for some, but last night’s 5 pm PDT shot of whiskey lifted my heart. You can’t escape risks, but you have manage risk/reward.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    @Jim Brown 32: A wise man.

    ReplyReply
  13. Kit says:

    I was already wondering if we would hear about the reemergence of speakeasies. Better that people drink alone at home than that they head out for the greater pleasure of drinking together.

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  14. denspark says:

    @Kit:

    Dont even have to drink alone these days.
    I’ve just spent a couple of hours on zoom with some friends and a few drinks having a catch up.
    made the afternoon in UK lockdown pass that much quicker and easier…..

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  15. Kit says:

    @denspark: Nature finds a way 🙂

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  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    If your local Instacart has failed – as mine has – don’t forget mail order. Caskers.com works. Also, it may be hard to get eggs and milk, but Harry and David will still send you baked goods and steaks.

    We are weirdly un-affected. We locked down early, so it’s been three+ weeks so far. I have as-yet untouched cartons of TP and paper towel. I stocked up on booze and weed. Cigar supply remains strong. Door Dash is still bringing us dinner. I’d really like some eggs, but aside from that, meh.

    Financially we’re taking a hit – two adult children, a mother-in-law with dementia, family members without money, various jobbers we continue to pay. The bank of Katherine and Michael has been doing some business, but we sort of made a mental budget for this, an amount we’re willing to spend without getting anxious about it. And Katherine had a movie scheduled for August release which will likely go straight to streaming, but that’d be pretty much the definition of a first world problem.

    Sometimes, as a wise old waiter once told me, ‘You gotta take a beating.”

    But so far, aside from worry about our kids, we’re good.

    We have however made an executive decision that cocktail hour is 4 PM. And if internet goes out we’re thinking murder-suicide pact.

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  17. Grumpy realist says:

    @Kit: several of the organizations I’m involved with are starting to have virtual Happy Hours. With sufficient bandwidth and Google Hangouts it seems to work.

    What’s keeping me sane are the hour-or-more phone calls I’ve had with an old friend of mine. We were doing this all of last year anyway, so there’s not much difference. Also the hour-and-a-half walks I’ve been taking.

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  18. Kit says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Katherine had a movie scheduled for August release which will likely go straight to streaming, but that’d be pretty much the definition of a first world problem.

    If that’s the first world, then I suddenly better understand why people risk everything to get there. Does your family have a green-card lottery?

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  19. Gustopher says:

    To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you don’t deal with a crisis with the coping skills you want to have or you wish you had, you deal with a crisis with the coping skills you do have.

    I have a pantry full of scotch.

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  20. Lounsbury says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Oddly the Sovs rather took a less puritan attitude to their alcohol….

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  21. Lounsbury says:

    My Sovs comment needs moderation???

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  22. Jen says:

    I have noticed that we are indeed going through more wine than our standard pace, and I think a fair amount of that is that with both of us WFH, we tend to start the evening tipple a bit earlier, which is adding a glass+ to our prior consumption levels.

    Aside from the cost, I’m not going to worry about this, there’s only so much a human can take.

    Really glad there’s a decent range of single malts at hand too.

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  23. CSK says:

    I once had some acquaintances who made it clear that they divided the human race into two parts: alcoholics and teetotalers. Nothing in between. The acquaintanceship never progressed to friendship.

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  24. James Joyner says:

    @Lounsbury: You had a typo in the email address, so it took you as a first-time commenter.

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  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Lounsbury: I wasn’t sure at all how the Soviets approached the use of alcohol by their populace, but considering the copious amounts of vodka consumed by the avg Russian I suspected they had a mostly hands off attitude.

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  26. dazedandconfused says:

    Yes, pot shops and liquor stores are ‘essential businesses’ in Washington
    Gov. Inslee’s stay-at-home order allows only essential businesses to remain open to the public. Marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores are included.

    https://www.krem.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/pot-shops-liquor-stores-essential-washington/293-4d52621e-ee33-4575-9dde-62b4edc511f3

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  27. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: From everything I’ve seen, had the Bolsheviks banned alcohol they’d have found out what a real Russian Revolution looked like.

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  28. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    If your local Instacart has failed – as mine has – don’t forget mail order. Caskers.com works.

    Yeah, yeah, rub it in. Keep in mind that many (most?) of us still live in states where the joys of federalism and the legacy of prohibition mean that it’s illegal for anyone to ship liquor to us. (In Maryland, it’s a felony.)

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  29. JohnSF says:

    “WHO thinks alcohol is an ‘unhelpful coping strategy’

    1 Sez WHO?

    2 F’in works for me.

    3 @Michael Reynolds:

    I stocked up on booze and weed.

    Dammit, I knew there was something I forgot.

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  30. Tyrell says:

    Is that why Russia does not have s lot of virus cases? I understand that over there vodka is like water. That stuff would stop a rattlesnake.

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  31. Kathy says:

    “WHO Says Alcohol Not Good Coping Strategy.”
    “Who said that?”
    “Yes.”
    “What?”
    “What’s on second.”
    “I’m not asking you who’s on second!”
    “WHO Says Alcohol Not Good Coping Strategy”
    “THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO FIND OUT!”

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  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Sometimes they have odd-ball stuff. I got a bottle of California whiskey, Charbay Doubled and Twisted, a whiskey made from beer. It’s got a definite, bitter hops thing. Not loving it yet, but I’m giving it a chance, don’t want to get too in a rut with my go-tos, Four Roses Single Barrel and Talisker 10.

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  33. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: @Michael Reynolds: Same in Virginia. It’s not so much that we’re trying to keep prohibition going but rather that the state wants the racket all to itself. We’re better than a lot of states, in that you can buy beer and wine practically anywhere. And you can indeed get those delivered. But spirits are a state monopoly. The pricing is fair and the selection is reasonable BUT if it’s not on the list, it’s not on the list. You have to drive to another state to get anything Virginia doesn’t stock.

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  34. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s not so much that we’re trying to keep prohibition going but rather that the state wants the racket all to itself.

    Yes, but they use the spirit of prohibition to defend it. “We can’t allow direct delivery of liquor — some of it might fall into the hands of the children…” (Insert wringing of hands here.)

    We’re better than a lot of states, in that you can buy beer and wine practically anywhere. And you can indeed get those delivered.

    You can thank me and people like me for the relentless lobbying effort that resulted, just a few years ago, in you being able to received shipped wine — not from just any winery, mind you, but only from licensed Virginia importers. The wineries have to pay the Commonwealth its vigorish for the privilege of shipping to you.

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  35. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You can thank me and people like me for the relentless lobbying effort that resulted, just a few years ago, in you being able to received shipped wine

    Thanks! And, yes, there was a time when we had to ship wine to my office in DC.

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  36. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    And, yes, there was a time when we had to ship wine to my office in DC.

    Smuggler. 🙂

    ReplyReply

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