Alcohol And The Coronavirus Explained
We are living in unprecedented times. In my lifetime, I’ve never experienced anything like what is happening in the world right now as a result of the spread of the novel coronavirus. Most of us are experiencing some level of fear and anxiety of the unknown or a sense of isolation due to “social distancing.” And for many, this is a time when the idea of drinking alcohol might seem like a good idea.
But it’s not. And let me tell you why.
Can alcohol protect you from the coronavirus?
First, let me address the misinformation you may have heard that alcohol can protect you from the coronavirus. Alcohol does, indeed, kill cells and organisms. It pulls the moisture out of a cell until it implodes on itself. It’s like a thermonuclear war in a petri dish. That is why it is the main ingredient in the sanitizer you’re rubbing on your hands.
Yes, if the virus is on your hands, you will kill it with alcohol.
But the alcohol on you rub on your hands and the alcohol you consume do two different things. The alcohol you consume goes to the stomach and is processed by the liver. It will never come in contact with the coronavirus. The coronavirus lives in cooler parts of your body like the nasal passages, and the disease it creates, COVID-19, is a respiratory illness.
Drinking alcohol will do nothing to kill this virus. But make no mistake, alcohol is still very effective at killing other cells in your body, and if you think that by adding some cranberry to your poison it is any less deadly, you are deluding yourself.
Does drinking relieve anxiety?
Next, let’s talk about another misconception – that alcohol will help with the anxiety, fear, and isolation that you are feeling as a result of this pandemic. I feel it. We’re all feeling it to some degree, no matter where we live or how our circumstances differ. We’re worried about the unknown. The economy is uncertain. We can’t be together with the people we love.
Those of us who are problem drinkers have what I call the “Evil Clown,” which is the voice of the addiction that is just waiting for moments when we are most vulnerable to rise up and whisper to us, “Why don’t you just have a drink and make this all go away?” If there was ever a time when we felt most vulnerable, it is now.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been sober days, weeks, months, or years. It doesn’t matter how weak your Evil Clown has become from being starved of food and light; it is on a mission to kill you and has been saving its energy, waiting for an opportunity like this.
The Evil Clown Is Lurking
With so much anxiety, it’s understandable to look for a solution. And the Evil Clown is happy to try to convince you that alcohol is that solution, that it will cure your anxiety. But that’s simply not true.
I hear people say that they know alcohol helps with anxiety because they’ve experienced it first hand; they drank when they were anxious, and they perceived that they became less anxious — in the short term — but the alcohol started a loop that in the long term actually increases the amount of anxiety.
This is because it is the nature of the drug to create a need for you to use more. It uses a carrot and stick approach to keep you drinking. While it draws you in with the promise of relief, it soon turns back into mild anxiety that you perceive as a jittery feeling of unease, and your Evil Clown is ready to tell you that you know what will relieve that feeling of unease —another drink. And so you’ve begun a loop.
It’s like going to a loan shark when you’re in debt. You may feel instantly better as if your money problems are solved. But the short-term loan isn’t the end of the story. There is a price to pay for the perceived benefit you’re getting in the moment. In reality, you’ve made your problem infinitely bigger.
Alcohol doesn’t help anxiety. It creates anxiety.
And if there wasn’t enough to be anxious about before this crisis, we are certainly at risk of being more anxious than ever unless we find a way to keep our perspective. Especially with the 24-hour rolling news coverage, complete with sensational headlines screaming, “Watch the world end, LIVE!”
Who wouldn’t be anxious? And sadly, the media loves this sort of stuff.
This is the kind of stuff they live for. Nothing sells better than bad news. And this is bad news. So, it can be harder to keep a healthy perspective with all of these voices of doom playing all day.
It’s true that this is a big deal. This is serious. People will get sick, and some will die. We need to heed instructions from credible health officials, and we need to act responsibly. But something else is also true: things will be fine again. Life will return to normal. It’s difficult to see it right now, but there has never been a storm that didn’t end.
True story — I was at the store and there was a man in front of me asking for cigarettes and a bottle of vodka, all while decked out in face mask and surgical gloves. I had to shake my head and wonder about that. I mean, “Do you care about your life or don’t you? I’m confused!”
Yes, this is serious. But most of all we need to all be sensible, follow advice, be kind, and keep in mind that this will end and we are going to be ok.
And while it seems scary and we feel out of control, not everything is out of our hands. There are some things we can do, such as decreasing our own risk of becoming infected so that we also reduce the risk of infecting others.
That is why it is as important as ever to build and protect your immune system. Drinking alcohol is one of the worst things you can be doing right now to protect yourself. Alcohol wreaks havoc on all of the organs and cells that are responsible for protecting you and fighting off viruses. In addition, smoking also severely depresses the immune system.
Now is the time to be taking care of yourself and giving your body a better chance at fighting any virus it might come in contact with. It’s simple: Don’t smoke. Eat a healthy diet. Get rest. Supplement with vitamin D (most of us are already vitamin D deficient), C, and zinc. And by all means — stay away from alcohol.
There is not one thing that alcohol makes better. And this is no exception.
If anything good is coming out of all of this, it is that we are learning how to support each other and be “together” even when we are in isolation. If you are worried about your drinking, I have resources that you can take advantage of right from your home. Please visit my website at www.stopdrinkingexpert.com.