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It’s the holiday season and instead of gathering together with loved ones with lots of hugs, presents, and joyful singing, people are hearing more calls to limit any socializing. After enduring so many months of historic social-distancing mandates, it’s no wonder people are feeling increasingly isolated and lonely. Americans are experiencing increases in boredom, stress, anxiety, and depression due to financial strain, job loss, businesses being shut down, and of course concerns about health. In such instances, it’s natural to desire a good strong drink. But here’s something to keep in mind … 

A RAND Corporation study reveals that American adults are drinking more amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Alcohol consumption has increased by 14 percent compared with a year ago, including 17 percent for women. The study goes on to show a staggering 41 percent increase in heavy drinking for women. Essentially, Americans are drinking more days per month, drinking in greater excess, and doing more binge drinking. Experts call it “as real concern.”

Dr. George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told USA Today that people are more likely to drink—and drink more—“during times of uncertainty and duress.” After all, he says, “Alcohol is a very effective painkiller. But when it wears off, that pain comes back with a vengeance.”

Having a couple of drinks a week is not a concern for most individuals, but the fact that alcohol is so readily available, and it’s regarded as socially acceptable, issues can arise.

While alcohol consumption always carries risks of negative outcomes, in the days of COVID-19, those problems are more concerning according to medical professionals.

Drinking alcohol can lead to a weakened immune system, reduced sleep, increased risk of injury, and chronic drinking is associated with the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (fluid in the lungs). 

“People who are self-medicating are going to put themselves at more health risks. The last thing they need to be doing is getting their bodies knocked down more and being more susceptible to the virus,” said Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital. 

COVID-19 has been an enormous burden for everyone on the planet, but it’s been particularly hard for those who wish to act and entertain, to make people laugh, and compel them to cry. The pandemic has certainly made it more difficult to get together with scene partners, attend class, network with like-minded individuals, and produce content for YouTube or other platforms. So, as a person dedicated to the craft of acting and to achieving great dreams, goals, and aspirations in the field of entertainment and the cinema arts, you might want to proceed with caution these days when it comes to alcohol. Consider other relaxation techniques such as taking baths, stretching, reading; focus on exercising and healthy eating, take hikes, reach out to friends digitally, and if needed, seek the support of a therapist via virtual visits.

At some point, this pandemic will be over. And when we do come out the other end of this nightmare, you’ll want to be ready to seize the opportunity of an explosion of new projects, which most experts agree will occur.

The great Dogma filmmaker Thomas Vintenberg just added another intriguing film to his oeuvre. Another Round, to be released on December 18th, tells the story of four friends, all high school teachers, who try to improve their happiness and confidence by drinking moderately, yet consistently. The initial results are positive, but when the stress and pressure of daily life ratchets up, things go sideways. The film brilliantly deconstructs the challenge of drinking responsibly and maintaining a healthy perspective on partaking in ardent spirits.