Treatment centers see spike of alcohol-related calls during pandemic

Posted at 9:49 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-22 00:17:21-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Alcohol sales soared as the coronavirus shut down our lives. Early on, sales spiked by 55-percent.

As we often reported new records throughout 2020, a message from a viewer gave us pause, reminding us, there is another side to this story -- a cost of COVID that will shape our rebound.

“The truth is when the global pandemic hit us, we were already in the midst of an addiction epidemic,” says Dr. Brian Wind. He’s the Clinical Director of Journey Pure -- a rehabilitation center focusing on addiction and mental health disorders.

“Prior to the pandemic, roughly one in 10 Americans reported symptoms of depression and anxiety on a daily basis. In the pandemic that number rose to almost 50%.”

Wind says that has led to a predictable path -- backed up by record alcohol sales in 2020.

“I’ve never seen people who passively accept symptoms of anxiety and depression. They move in the direction of self-medication.”

The Tennessee Redline, around since 1989, is often the first call for help as it provides referrals for addiction treatment. Comparing the months of August in 2018 and 2019, alcohol-related calls increased by 4.8%. But in August of 2020, when we were knee-deep in COVID-19, alcohol-related calls jumped by 32%. Journey Pure saw it too with a 5% increase in calls and a 9% increase in admissions in 2020.

“Considering we serve thousands of patients on an annual basis – that’s a pretty big lift,” says Wind.

It’s also a good reminder that as the world returns to normal, not everyone is coming back the same.

“I think it’s important to know that there are many people around us that are still going to be on edge. I think easy does it is probably the moto we should abide by.”

If you need help, the Tennessee Redline is available 24/7/365. You can call or text: 800-889-9789