Journal of Mental Health and Human Behaviour

SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year
: 2020  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 67--68

Utilizing the opportunity of complete lockdown in COVID-19 pandemic for quitting alcohol


Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava1, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava2,  
1 Department of Community Medicine, Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet - 603 108, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
India

Abstract

The Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been linked to socioeconomic disruptions and impairment in the quality of life. Alcohol-based hand rubs have been recommended for maintaining hand hygiene when the hands are visibly not dirty, but they have no role in the prevention and treatment of the disease on consumption. It is important to note that in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the infection, many nations have imposed a complete lockdown, and such compulsory restrictions have even affected the sale of alcohol in various consumable forms. From the public health perspective, it should be considered as a window of opportunity to motivate people who are planning to quit drinking or at least significantly reduce the consumption of alcohol. In conclusion, the intake of alcohol does not have any role in the prevention or treatment of the COVID-19 infection. On the contrary, it will be ideal to consider the settings of lockdown as an event which should be utilized for quitting alcohol forever without being exposed to stigma.



How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Utilizing the opportunity of complete lockdown in COVID-19 pandemic for quitting alcohol.J Mental Health Hum Behav 2020;25:67-68


How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Utilizing the opportunity of complete lockdown in COVID-19 pandemic for quitting alcohol. J Mental Health Hum Behav [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 10 ];25:67-68
Available from: https://www.jmhhb.org/text.asp?2020/25/1/67/297417


Full Text



 Introduction



The corona virus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been linked to socioeconomic disruptions and impairment in the quality of life of the affected individuals, health-care personnel, and members of the community. The global estimates depict that till now, 4,338,658 cases and 297,119 deaths have been reported across the 216 nations and territories around the world.[1] In general, alcohol has been attributed to multiple detrimental side effects and social consequences and its consumption has been discouraged by all the public health authorities in heterogeneous settings.

 Corona Virus Disease-2019 and Alcohol



Alcohol-based handrubs have been recommended for maintaining hand hygiene when the hands are visibly not dirty. However, a large number of myths have been prevailing about the role of alcohol intake in the prevention and treatment of the disease.[2] These myths have originated from the fear and misinformation about the novel viral infection and it has been said that alcohol can kill the virus in the body or in the air or can improve the immunity to the infection.[2] In reality, these myths lack any supporting scientific evidence and should be discouraged at all levels.[3]

 Lockdown and Impact on Quitting Alcohol



It is important to note that in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the infection, many nations have imposed a complete lockdown, so that the mobility of the infected cases can be minimized and their contacts remain restricted to the household members.[2] However, such compulsory restrictions have even affected the sale of alcohol in various consumable forms, both from the retail shops and also from the bars or clubs or restaurants.[2],[4] From the public health perspective, it should be considered as a window of opportunity to motivate people who are planning to quit drinking or at least significantly reduce the consumption of alcohol.[3]

This can turn out to be a very much feasible option as due to these social restrictions, all forms of social gathering are discouraged and thus the person who is a chronic alcoholic will not find their usual friends or parties or places, which in general act as the main platforms to encourage the drinking of alcohol.[3],[4] In addition, most of the people consider availing assistance from the health sector as a kind of stigma and therefore never seek health-care support to quit alcohol.[3] Once again, during these times of lockdown, the people who are interested to quit alcohol can very much stay at home and avail online guidance or interventions for the correction of alcohol use disorders and thus maintain privacy.[3],[4]

 Potential Challenges and Recommended Solutions



However, the program managers should definitely think about the possibility of bootlegging and the ways to prevent the same and this has to be ensured through strict implementation of legal provisions.[5] At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that even if people quit alcohol now due to compulsion, there is a definite possibility of relapse once the restrictions are lifted. Thus, we have to create opportunities for people to join social media group platforms and the discussion, especially as long as lockdown is continuing. In addition, the people who have quit alcohol should be exposed to both tele-group counseling and tele-consultation from the experts whenever there is craving for alcohol and motivate people to continue healthy behaviors.[6] These options have significant scope in the current scenario as it reduces the possibility of acquisition of COVID-19 infection, once a person visits hospital settings.

Further, efforts have to be taken to enroll these people who have quit alcohol to join in alcoholics anonymous groups as members after the restrictions are lifted to enable continued support to the people.[3],[5] In addition, the social workers and nongovernmental agencies can be roped in the initiative to encourage extension of desired support and counseling to avoid any relapses and referral to the health-care facilities, if required. However, on the personal front, we should avoid alcohol cues and events which can activate the craving for alcohol. In addition, we should try to adhere to our daily routine and not consider alcohol as an option for stress relieving. On the other hand, we should adopt other strategies such as to pursue our hobbies or spending quality time with family members or indulge in some form of stress-relieving activities such as yoga, music, or exercise.[2],[3]

 Conclusion



The intake of alcohol does not have any role in the prevention or treatment of the COVID-19 infection. On the contrary, it will be ideal to consider the settings of lockdown as an event, which should be utilized for quitting alcohol forever without being exposed to stigma.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 116; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200515-covid-19-sitrep-116.pdf?sfvrsn=8dd60956_2. [Last accessed on 2020 May 16].
2World Health Organization. Alcohol does not Protect against COVID-19; Access should be Restricted during Lockdown; 2020. Available from: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/alcohol-use/news/news/2020/04/alcohol-does-not-protect-against-covid-19-access-should-be-restricted-during-lockdown. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 17].
3World Health Organization - European Region. Alcohol and COVID-19: What You Need to Know. Copenhagen: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-6.
4García-Álvarez L, Fuente-Tomás L, Sáiz PA, García-Portilla MP, Bobes J. Will changes in alcohol and tobacco use be seen during the COVID-19 lockdown? Adicciones 2020;32:85-9.
5Clay JM, Parker MO. Alcohol use and misuse during the COVID-19 pandemic: A potential public health crisis? Lancet Public Health 2020;5:e259.
6Liu S, Yang L, Zhang C, Xiang YT, Liu Z, Hu S, et al. Online mental health services in China during the COVID-19 outbreak. Lancet Psychiatry 2020;7:e17-8.