COVID-19 has changed our normal way of living in so many ways. We are staying home more, having fewer social gatherings and dining out less often. During the pandemic, we also may be turning more often to alcoholic beverages thinking it may have health benefits or as part of our entertainment.

Reliance on “quarantine cocktail parties,” a drink at lunch even while working at home or adding evening cocktails to the daily routine is increasing, and so are myths about the relationship between alcohol and COVID-19. It’s important to know the facts.

I’ve been talking with my patients about these common myths and facts about alcohol and COVID-19:

Myth: Consuming alcohol destroys the COVID-19 virus.

Fact: Alcohol does not destroy the COVID-19 virus. Alcohol increases health risks and weakens immunity.

Myth: If I drink strong alcohol, it will kill the virus in my mouth or in my nose if I inhaled the virus.

Fact: Alcohol offers no disinfectant purpose within the body.

Myth: Alcohol helps to cope with stress and ease anxiety.

Fact: Alcohol has the opposite effect and can actually increase not only anxiety and panic, but also depression and other mood-related disorders. It also increases the risk for domestic violence.

Myth: Alcohol helps to pass the time.

Fact: Alcohol detracts from being productive.

Myth: Drinking more alcohol than I did before the pandemic is harmless.

Fact: Alcohol has many effects on the body and some of the negative effects can be long-term. Alcohol weakens the immune system, alters judgment and thoughts, lowers inhibitions and can negatively affect nearly every organ in the body. Alcohol can increase the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Even in small amounts alcohol can be risky to an unborn baby, and it can even increase the risk of severe respiratory distress which is a major problem related to the COVID-19 infection.

If you or someone you love needs help

An advantage during the pandemic is that many organizations now have online support, offering greater anonymity and less feeling of stigma in reaching out for help. If alcohol consumption is excessive, do not stop drinking cold turkey as it may be risky to your health. Speak with a health professional first.

If you, a friend or loved one has a strong urge or need to drink too much, seek help right away. Contact a chapter of the National Association of Mental Illness close to you. In Delaware, connect with the Crisis Intervention Hotline at 800-652-2929 in New Castle County and 800-345-6785 in Kent and Sussex counties.

To discuss your health with a ChristianaCare primary care provider, call 302-777-0643.