LUBBOCK, Texas — Nielsen reports that at the beginning of the pandemic alcohol sale increased by over 50 percent. Now, over a year later, a rise in liver-related illnesses is emerging, and alcohol sales aren’t slowing down either.
“These patients – they have the same story: ‘Well, I didn’t have anything else to do so I started drinking,'” said Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Dr. Tim Miller.
In 2020, alcohol sales rose and 1 out of 4 Americans reported increasing their drinking to combat related stress, according to the American Psychological Association.
“Alcohol affects the entire body from the mind to the nerves to the mental status,” said Miller.
Health impacts from the rise in alcohol consumption are beginning to be increasingly common.
“Our hospital weeks are unfortunately filled with complications from alcoholism and we have seen a dramatic increase in those complications in the last year or so really since COVID,” said Miller.
Dr. Miller says alcohol is an addictive substance. So, when people turn to it during times of stress, it can be hard to stop.
“It’s very sad because alcohol-liver disease is often preventable but we find it’s hard for people to stop and we find that a lot of the illnesses that they have are often irreversible,” said Miller.
And with this pre-pandemic trend holding steady, Dr. Miller expects more folks to develop alcohol-related illness in the future.
“Fatty liver disease has been on the increase, so unfortunately liver disease is here to stay and I don’t see a huge light at the end of the tunnel right now unfortunately. Time will tell,” said Miller.
The standard advice when it comes to alcohol is that women shouldn’t not exceed one drink a day and men no more than 2. Dr. Miller advises that when it comes to health, everything should be in moderation.