The Importance of Avoiding Alcohol During Difficult Health Times

Alcohol closeup in a dark
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Studies show that at least 55 percent of American adults consume alcohol on a regular basis. Alcohol is said to be a “social lubricant,” and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually on advertising in an effort to convince people that they “need” alcohol to have fun or relax.

But alcohol is, by itself, intrinsically unhealthy. Moderate drinking over time increases the risk for a range of health complications like breast cancer, oral cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, strokes, heart disease, mental complications, reduced fertility, weight gain, impaired memory, etc.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also crucial to note that alcohol consumption lowers immune response. During what may be one of the most dangerous public health events of our time, people should avoid alcohol to better protect their health.

Alcohol Consumption Always Carries Risk

Most people understand that drinking too much alcohol poses serious health consequences. But the truth is, all forms of drinking carry some risk. Even just one drink lowers inhibition and reaction time. The only way to guarantee that one is not at risk for alcohol-related harm is simply not to drink.

The risks of alcohol consumption are further exacerbated during a global pandemic. Not only does alcohol not protect against COVID-19, but drinking alcohol makes it more likely that people will contract COVID-19 if they are exposed to someone who has the illness. In fact, alcohol consumption during a global pandemic is so harmful that the World Health Organization suggested that governments restrict access to alcohol during the health crisis.

In response to a false report that alcohol consumption might protect one against COVID-19, the World Health Organization released a concise but extremely pertinent denouncement of alcohol consumption during a health crisis. According to the report, alcohol consumption is closely associated with a range of infectious diseases, all of which weaken immune response and make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19.

It’s also important to note that alcohol is a psychoactive substance that affects behavior and mood. Someone who drinks to excess during a health crisis is more likely to take risks, opening them up to even further harm.

“… During the COVID-19 pandemic, we should really ask ourselves what risks we are taking in leaving people under lockdown in their homes with a substance that is harmful both in terms of their health and the effects of their behavior on others, including violence.”
Family alcohol conflict
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The WHO went so far as to suggest that governments restrict their populations’ access to alcohol during the COVID-19 health crisis. While that may have been seen as a radical move by some, the WHO made a strong case for it. Quoting Carina Ferreira-Borges, Programme Manager, Alcohol and Illicit Drugs Programme, WHO/Europe, “Alcohol is consumed in excessive quantities in the European Region, and leaves too many victims. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we should really ask ourselves what risks we are taking in leaving people under lockdown in their homes with a substance that is harmful both in terms of their health and the effects of their behavior on others, including violence.”

The WHO report also reminded the public that alcohol is responsible for three million deaths worldwide each year, and is the cause of about five percent of all global deaths annually.

A Turn for the Worse in the States

Unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse in the U.S., and alcohol company lobbyists have succeeded in guiding Americans in the opposite direction from the WHO recommendations. Alcohol companies used the COVID-19 health crisis to encourage a reduction in restrictions on alcohol-related commerce. During COVID, restrictions and regulations on online sales of alcohol and home delivery options were intentionally slackened so that alcohol companies could still profit during the pandemic.

And profit they did.

Alcohol and the Immune System

Man sick at home
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There is no question that alcohol consumption harms the immune system. In a 2015 paper, authors Sarkar, Phil, Jung, and Wang opened their discussion by saying, “Clinicians have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia. In recent decades, this association has been expanded to a greater likelihood of acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS), sepsis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD), and certain cancers; a higher incidence of postoperative complications; and slower and less complete recovery from infection and physical trauma, including poor wound healing.”

In another report, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism laid out in eye-opening detail the harmful effects of alcohol on the human body. Alcohol harms the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas. Furthermore, while heavy, chronic drinkers suffer from significantly reduced immune response due to their ongoing alcohol consumption, even just one incident of excessive drinking lowers the body’s ability to ward off infections. This effect continues for up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

That means someone who drinks to excess on even just one occasion is effectively slowing their body’s ability to ward off infections. Not only are they more at risk for infection while drunk, but the harmful effects on their immune response last for a full day after getting drunk.

A Sober Lifestyle is a Healthy Lifestyle

Increased risk for infection, added harm due to COVID-19 risk, the additional risk for adverse physical, behavioral, or psychological effects, the list goes on for why people should not consume alcohol, particularly during a health pandemic. At this time, Americans need to be thinking about how they can be as healthy as possible. For many, that will mean cutting alcohol out of their life completely.

And for those who are currently addicted to alcohol, such individuals must get into treatment as soon as possible. People addicted to substances are at a particularly high risk of contracting COVID-19, making their predicament all the more dangerous. If you know someone who is struggling with a drinking problem, now more than ever, it is crucial that you get them help. Don't let them fall prey to the dwindling spiral of alcohol addiction. Contact Narconon today, and take the first step towards helping your loved one achieve a better life.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.