Life changed for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some lost a job, some worked from home, and many felt their stress levels spike. Studies show since 2019, there's been a rise in substance abuse in women.
"You have a glass of wine in the afternoon, and then carried into the evening with friends, and it just became more accessible, easier and something to do," Joy Hoover said.
She admits it was easy to have a drink or two — or three — during the pandemic. Raising two small children and suddenly working from home, she found alcohol to be an easy stress reliever. But it wasn't a healthy one.
"Alcohol just started affecting my anxiety a lot, and it started affecting my body and my mental health," she said.
Hoover isn't an alcoholic, but she knew she needed to make a change, and she's not alone. In a report released just six months into the pandemic, the Journal of the American Medical Association found alcohol consumption jumped 17 percent among U.S. women.
"We've seen a trend in the lives of women who are dealing with a lot of stress. Alcohol use is a very easy and accessible way for us to kind of cope and it's socially condoned," Michelle Dubey, the Chief Clinical Officer at Landmark Recovery, said.
Dubey pointed out that we're not necessarily experiencing a spike in alcoholism, but even the smallest increase in alcohol consumption can have significant repercussions.
"When alcohol begins to impact our ability to do the things that are required of us, you know, getting our kids to school, getting ourselves taken care of," Dubey said.
Hoover stopped drinking in January 2021 and said for now, it's what works best for her.
'I realize it's OK. If alcohol does not work for my body, I can still be exactly who I am, have fun with my friends, hang out with my mom friends, go on dates with my husband, and now we just order off the mocktail menu," she said.
The Mayo Clinic reports that women are increasingly affected by alcohol-associated liver disease, and develop more severe disease with lower levels of alcohol than men. Women are also less likely to seek treatment for alcohol-associated liver disease.