We are now in the midst of the holiday season that runs from Christmas through New Years Eve. Raising a glass of “cheer” is a commonplace during this season.

Unfortunately it’s also a symptom of a larger problem for many in this year of the coronavirus. The New York Times warns:

During the pandemic, alcohol has become an easy way to self-medicate, aided by the fact that liquor and wine stores were deemed essential services from the start. Many even offer delivery, with apps like MiniBar filling in the gaps. New Yorkers who ache for fresh air and company have been able to order cocktails to go from restaurants and enjoy them on the sidewalk.

The article quotes Martha Duke, a recovering alcoholic, who finds herself fielding questions from friends and acquaintances who wonder how much is too much. “No one is talking about glasses of wine anymore,” Duke is quoted as saying, adding, “People are measuring by the bottle. That scares me. I know too many women who went from one or two glasses to two bottles of wine to vodka in your coffee cup.”

The article emphasizes that “women in particular have been vocal about curbing their heavy drinking, the frequency of which increased by 41 percent this year, versus 7 percent for men, according to a RAND Corporation study published in September.”

These are sobering numbers — no pun intended. We have all needed to cope with cabin fever during these grueling months of sheltering in place. Many have turned to binge eating, which is a bad habit. But reaching for the bottle is much worse.

Here are a few telltale signs that you may need help:

  • Drinking alone. If you watching an old movie or concert on TV or reading something interesting on your laptop and decide a glass of wine would enhance your enjoyment, you may need help. “Social drinking,” as its name implies, is drinking in the company of others. If you’re hitting the bottle alone, speak to a health professional ASAP.
  • Losing count. The habit of counting glasses to force yourself to limit your intake may be a warning sign. But losing count and continuing to drink is even more dire.  Again, you need to self help immediately.