A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that nearly 1 in 4 Americans coped with the pandemic by drinking more alcohol. Margarita Mondays and wine Wednesdays became buzz words for the virtual happy hours enjoyed during COVID-19 lockdowns.
According to Axios, data from a Nielsen survey found that there was a 54% increase in the sale of alcohol in the U.S. in the week ending on March 21, 2020 compared to the same week in previous years. And another poll conducted in late 2020 revealed that a whopping 75% of Americans said that their drinking increased.
Experts point out that excessive drinking leads to many health issues, as well as social problems. Historically, American drinking habits have spiked after disasters such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, says Axios. But the dangerous difference with the COVID-19 pandemic is that isolation led to a rise of drinking solo which can exacerbate feelings of depression. Alcohol is also the third leading cause of preventable death, says Axios.
However, according to WebMD, for many people, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction. They chose this time to get sober and eliminate alcohol, which studies have linked to cancer and other illnesses. Sober bars, alcohol-free adult beverages and plant-based drinks have risen in popularity since the pandemic.
In fact, Molson Coors just released Huzzah, a low-sugar beverage that contains probiotics to promote a healthy gut. A company in Oregon called For Bitter or Worse launched booze-free botanical cocktails just prior to the pandemic that became a huge success as Americans tried to get their excess drinking under control.
“I now see alcohol abstention and sober-curiosity as a social movement,” said Shelley Elkovich, founder of For Bitter or Worse, who personally decided to break up with liquor, according to WebMD. She added that bars have begun to pop up across the country that offer the same social atmosphere without serving alcohol.
Even regular drinking establishments are expanding their list of alcohol-free drinks, said Ruby Warrington, who wrote Sober Curious in 2018 touting “the blissful sleep, greater focus, deep connection and limitless presence awaiting us all on the other side of alcohol.”
Warrington compared the sober curious movement, a term she coined, to the growth of veganism.
“You used to have to ask for a separate menu if you were a vegan,” she said, according to WebMD. “Now you have entirely vegan restaurants. I think we’ll see a similar thing with the alcohol-free movement.”
Kelly Bertog, the founder of YOURS, an online resource for alcohol-free beverages and support, saw “exponential growth” on his site.
“A lot of people were drinking and decided it isn’t for them,” he said. “We’ve been conditioned to think that alcohol should be at the center of every social gathering, but people began discovering communities online once they decided to make a change. They found our site when they were searching for mocktail recipes, but we found that they also wanted tips on how to cut alcohol out of their lives.”
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