For Immediate Release: April 7, 2022
Katie Warchut │ Vermont Department of Health 802-355-9838 / 802-863-7281
Vermonters Encouraged to Watch for Changes in Pandemic-Related Drinking Habits
Help is available through VTHelplink.org
BURLINGTON, VT – Many Vermonters experienced isolation, stress and other impacts on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. They may also have increased the amount of alcohol they drink.
During National Alcohol Awareness Month this April, the Health Department is asking Vermonters to reflect on changes in their drinking habits over the past two years and seek out the readily available help and supports if they need it.
“The pandemic has been harmful to our health in many ways, but one of the most concerning impacts is the increase in substance use, including alcohol,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “If you have noticed an increase in your drinking, please know that you are not alone, and help is available.”
In both national and state data released in 2021, more people report drinking greater amounts at one time, or more often. One national survey of adults completed in 2019 and 2020 found the frequency of alcohol consumption increased by 14%. And in Vermont, youth and young adults reported changes in their substance use, with some reporting increases in alcohol use.
In March 2020, the Health Department launched VT Helplink, which provides support, resources and services for substance use concerns and mental wellness by phone or online chat. More than half (58%) of people who accessed VT Helplink in 2021 listed alcohol as the substance of concern.
Drinking too much alcohol has both short-term dangers, including injuries, violence and alcohol poisoning, and long-term health risks, such as the development of chronic diseases and addiction. Drinking too much can also create situations that impact family relationships and employment.
“We all experienced disruptions to our daily routines and support networks throughout the pandemic, and many of us faced challenges accessing treatment. But as COVID-19 becomes less of a disruption, we can re-assess our behaviors, rebuild healthier habits, and reconnect with the supports that can get us there,” Dr. Levine said.
If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol – treatment is available and effective. VT Helplink can help people get connected to services and support with any substance, or mental wellness concerns. It is free, confidential, and you can talk with a person directly or connect to VT Helplink online. Call 802-565-LINK(5465) or visit VTHelplink.org
Take this quick online screening quiz to see if your drinking is a risk to your health: alcoholscreening.org
Learn more about what is considered excessive drinking and health risks related to alcohol: healthvermont.gov/alcohol
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