Another study published in JAMA Network Open in October found that Americans increased the frequency of their alcohol consumption by 14 percent compared to a year earlier. But the same study found a 41 percent increase in the number of days on which women drank heavily, defined as having four or more drinks in a couple of hours.
“Women have disproportionately left the labor force entirely compared to men; they have disproportionately taken on the work around the house, the child care, and the child’s education,” said Michael S. Pollard, the lead author of the JAMA study and a senior sociologist at the RAND Corporation. “So, it stands to reason that women would increase their alcohol use disproportionately as well.”
The psychological damage from the past year has caused sharp declines in physical health, including widespread weight gain and disruptions in sleep. Hospitals around the country have reported an increase in admissions for hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure and other forms of alcohol-related diseases. Almost no group has been spared.
Driftwood Recovery, an addiction and mental health rehabilitation center in Texas, has had so many requests for treatment this past year that it has a two-month waiting list. Vanessa Kennedy, Driftwood’s director of psychology, said that many of her clients are parents who started drinking heavily as they struggled to balance their day jobs with home-schooling and other parental responsibilities.
“They’re used to having their kids go off happily to school and having an experienced teacher teach their children while they go to work and focus on performing well and providing financial support for their family,” said Dr. Kennedy. “Their work roles are conflicting with their parenting roles, and it’s been difficult for them to create space and do those things well.”