Dry January – Not for Everyone

Dry January,the annual initiative to stop drinking alcohol for the first month of the year, is a trending topic in social media around the world and hailed by health experts. While the trend is a great health initiative for modest drinkers it may not be practical for people with underlying psychological issues, according to Dr. David McNabb, president, Adult & Teen Challenge MidSouth.  

McNabb points to the effects of the pandemic isolation. “As isolation continues, reports of the effects are more frequent, including accounts of depression, anxiety and addiction.” He adds that self-medication is a common coping response to stress.  

“As we look to turning the corner on the pandemic, we believe we will see the fallout from the stress of the losses, including loss of loved ones, jobs, opportunities and social interaction,” says McNabb. Included in the fallout will be more people struggling from addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. 

Compounding the problem is that the COVID-19 pandemic is longer lasting and causing more extensive loss than previous traumatic events. We are undergoing widespread social disruption and isolation, limited social support and access to medical care, as well as negative domestic and global economic impacts. Researchers report it could have an even greater effect on population-wide alcohol use.  

Already, we’re hearing more and more stories out of Hollywood including Miley Cyrus’ confession to “drunk dialing” old flames during relapses in 2020. In mid-December, John Mulaney checked into a 60-day rehab program after succumbing to drug and alcohol addiction. His family blames the pandemic.
McNabb cites the October report published in the JAMA Network Open that stated alcohol consumption has increased during Covid isolation by 14% compared to a year ago, including 17% for women. The study also showed a 41% increase in heavy drinking among women (heavy drinking is defined as four or more drinks for women within a couple hours and five or more for men). These statistics are from a self-reported study; the true impact could be higher. 

 “As doors open and people emerge, we know there will be a great need for residential addiction recovery,” says McNabb, adding “We believe Adult & Teen Challenge will be among the frontline workers in 2021.”

Adult & Teen Challenge MidSouth (ATC) is a faith-based, non-profit headquartered in Chattanooga, TN, serving adults 18-50 struggling with addiction. Since it’s beginning by founder David Wilkerson on the streets of New York in 1958, the mission of ATC is to provide freedom from addiction and other life-controlling issues through Christ-centered solutions. The result is radical life-transformation. A 2019 study showed 78% of program graduates were maintaining freedom from addiction. For more information on Adult & Teen Challenge MidSouth, visit tcmidsouth.org or call 423.756.5558.