▶️ While alcohol use surges during pandemic, many take on a ‘Dry January’

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By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

This month, many people are giving up alcohol for “Dry January.”

“I think it’s a really, very good idea,” Rick Treleaven, the chief executive office of BestCare Treatment Center in Redmond, said.

Many people are taking up the challenge as alcohol consumption is spiking around the U.S.

Research from the Rand Corporation performed this past fall found drinking was up 14% last year compared to the previous year. Heavy drinking among woman — which is considered four drinks or more within two hours — jumped 41%.

“We began to see it late last spring,” Treleaven said.

Treleaven has seen the effects of the pandemic at BestCare, a center in Redmond that helps those struggling with substance addiction.

“Unemployment, problems with schools, problems with families and social isolation,” Treleaven said. “We’ve all fallen into bad habits, and if your bad habit includes a serious drinking or drug problem, then that really has pretty devastating consequences.”

Jamie Bartosz, a certified recovery mentor at BestCare, has also seen the effects of the pandemic on addicts firsthand in the Redmond emergency room.

“I would say since COVID, what’s happened, is all these patients we work with have lost their connection, their resources, and essentially they’re isolated,” Bartosz said.

But when does enjoying a drink or two turn into something else?

“As soon as you start seeing impacts on work, on relationships, on your own wellbeing and depression and anxiety, and if you’re using substances to cope and manage, those are signs you want to seek professional help,” Treleaven said.

Treleaven said research shows there are many people who don’t fit a “classic” alcoholic mold, but who do drink three to four drinks a day, which is more than what’s recommended for your health.

Dry January is a great way to make a healthy change.

“taking time away from that pattern, to be able to reflect on it, think about it, recalibrate it — hugely important, hugely helpful thing to do,” Treleaven said.

 

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