KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Thirteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, new studies were emerging showing the impact isolation had on mental health.
One study by Harvard Health found that 2 in 3 adults had experienced increased stress levels over the course of the pandemic, with many turning to alcohol to cope.
Heavy drinking is defined as having four or more drinks in one occasion. The study said there had been a 14% increase in heavy drinking among adults and a 41% increase among adult women in particular.
“We are getting clientele who are struggling, maybe for the first time, not having struggled before," Joyce Pines, the Clinical Director for Adult Services at Community Healing Centers, said. "I would say we are seeing both men and women.”
Pines said as time has gone on, more people have recognized they need help.
“Over the months I’ve been watching, we keep track of the numbers, and it has slowly and gradually increased month by month. A few more appointments made every month, a few more people coming in, the group sizes starting to grow again.”
Pines said the results of the study were concerning, as alcohol could have a dangerous impact on women and their bodies.
“Women metabolize alcohol differently than men," she said. "As a general rule, because of the differences in our body structures, women will hold alcohol in their bodies longer so it’s slower for women to process through their systems. It also means alcohol affects them more strongly.”
Pines said it was important to watch the amount a person was drinking and the frequency of consumption, as they could indicate help was needed.
“For example, maybe you had a glass of wine with dinner, or a glass of wine as you made dinner. Now you find you are finishing a glass when you are making dinner, you’re finishing another glass as you eat dinner and then you’re maybe finishing the bottle after dinner," Pines said.
Pines said she wanted people to know they should never be afraid to ask for help.
“No one should suffer alone with what’s going on," Pines said. "There are loads and loads of people out here who want to help and provide services.”
Pines said financial assistance was available for services, too.