1 in 3 West Virginians say alcohol is a pandemic ‘essential’

West Virginia

In times of crisis, people tend to rush to grocery stores to stock up on essential items in preparation for a serious event that will last for an undetermined amount of time. Evidence of this happened in stores across the country at the onset of the pandemic as scores of shoppers stripped shelves bare of products, while alarmed officials made public pleas for people to act reasonably.

American Addiction Centers, a leading provider of addiction recovery resources, conducted a survey of 3,000 people (aged 21+), and found that almost 1 in 3 (29%) West Virginians say they deem alcohol an essential purchase during the pandemic (below the national average of 37%).

Broken down across states, this figure was highest in Delaware (67%) and lowest in South Dakota, with just 9% of people deeming alcohol an essential purchase.

When it came to liquor, West Virginians were fortunate that supply could keep up with the demand when lockdowns were imposed, which is surprising since a significant number of those surveyed would have opted to buy a bottle or two before toilet paper. When given a hypothetical situation and asked to purchase either tissue or alcohol, 25% said they would choose the latter.

Pandemic Prohibition? Again, respondents were asked, hypothetically, if liquor sales had been banned during the pandemic in the U.S. (as occurred in some other countries), would they have broken the rules? The results showed that nearly half (44%) said they would have found ways around the ban.

Not surprisingly, given the stressful times many people have gone through, the survey revealed the extent to which people have used alcohol as a coping mechanism since the beginning of the pandemic. Men appeared to have used alcohol more for this purpose than women – when asked to rank how difficult the pandemic would have been without alcohol on a scale of 1-10, men would have ranked it at 6/10 without the availability of alcohol, and women would have ranked it a four.

If presented with a binary choice between only having access to either hard liquor (such as vodka, whisky and rum) or lighter drinks such as beer and wine, a significant 25% said they would opt for the former.

Finally, American Addiction Centers delved into alcohol’s impact on relationships during the pandemic. It’s widely known that alcohol has the ability to make people lose their inhibitions and can potentially fuel anger and arguments. In fact, nearly half (48%) of those in relationships say alcohol has hindered their relationship during lockdown. Perhaps this has something to do with nearly 1 in 5 partners admitting to keeping their drinking a secret from their partner during lockdown.

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