The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) announced Monday that it has launched a new advertising campaign to caution people about the warning signs of excessive alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic where to go to get help.
Citing a rise in alcohol use since the beginning of the pandemic, the OASAS said it would also use the campaign to create awareness of alternatives to alcohol use for stress management.
“Now more than ever, it is important to raise awareness about the harmful effects of alcohol and promote healthy ways to deal with anxiety and stress,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Co-Chair of the NYS Heroin and Opioid Task Force. “We want to make sure individuals and families have the information and resources they need to cope with addiction and other struggles during the pandemic. The launch of this new campaign will highlight the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, the warning signs and ways to manage stress. This is part of our ongoing efforts to provide New Yorkers with the services and support they need to address mental health and substance abuse and encourage healthy and safe lifestyles.”
According to a study by the RAND Corporation, American adults have sharply increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic. The study found that the overall frequency of alcohol consumption is up by 14 percent over the same time last year among adults over 30. The increase was 19 percent amongst adults between 30 and 59, 17 percent amongst women, and 10 percent amongst non-white Hispanics. Women also reported increasing their heavy drinking episode (four or more drinks within a few hours) by 41 percent.
“During this difficult time, it is important that people recognize the dangers of increased alcohol consumption,” OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said. “With this campaign, we are reminding people of the negative consequences they could face by not using alcohol responsibly, and are also helping direct them to the services they need to manage any addiction issues.”
Excess drinking may lead to or worsen existing depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues and may also decrease immune function, officials said.