NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – COVID-19 may be causing more people to drink. According to a new survey, 60% of Americans have increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic.
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The Center on Alcohol, Substance Use, and Addictions says there’s a serious uptick in alcohol use here in the state, creating long-standing problems. CASAA is a multidisciplinary research center at the University of New Mexico.
It has long-standing relationships with a number of community-based treatment programs that are available as sites for clinical trials. There are rising concerns at the research center over the increased use of alcohol consumption – especially during the pandemic.
J. Scott Tonigan is the director of CASAA. He says, “Reasons given are boredom, stress, and oddly, alcohol availability. Addictive behaviors lead to suffering, it affects health, public safety, economic productivity, the majority of preventable illnesses, injury, and even death.”
New Mexico is no stranger to the tragedies caused by alcohol use. Tonigan explains, “Alex Martinez and Danielle Ortiz. Two young mothers with two children each had been drinking in the evening and using other substances and crashed their car through the air and hit the wall and two children were killed. A two-year-old and seven-year-old girl.”
Health experts also want to warn people about the risks of using alcohol to cope with the pandemic. “This alcohol use is very concerning because many of you may not be aware alcohol use impacts the immune system and makes you more vulnerable to COVID-19,” Tonigan shares.
Researchers say the pandemic has also created barriers to accessing alcohol treatment programs. “The provision of alcohol treatment has been compromised and the availability to formal aftercare or case management and very importantly mutual-help programs supporting treatment have been more difficult to access.”
Leaders with CASAA say people affected by alcohol and drugs can change their lives for the better. The research center says it’s all a part of their mission.
A report by the CDC last year showed that our state continues to have one of the highest rates of alcohol-related deaths. Researchers looked at data over four years ending in 2015.