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Are You Drinking Too Much During Quarantine?

written by Carrie Borzillo - Jun 15, 2020
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Apr 10, 2022

Photo Credit: drinking during quarantine, by Carrie Borzillo
Photo Credit: drinking during quarantine, by Carrie Borzillo

Being confined to our homes due to the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic has led to such mental health issues as anxiety and depression, as well as feelings of isolation and boredom for many people around the world, which has caused a spike in alcohol consumption. While it might be a fun way to pass the time while “stay-at-home” orders are still in effect in most parts of the world, overindulging in booze can lead to a plethora of issues including alcohol addiction, liver cancer, liver disease, cirrhosis, and more.

According to a recent study by Nanos Research, which was commissioned by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, 18 percent of Canadians admitted to drinking more since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, in the United States, one poll by YouGov reports that 20 percent of Americans are drinking more than usual.

This is good news for beverage companies as studies show that alcohol sales in the UK were up by 22 percent in March alone and up 55 percent in the U.S., compared to this time last year. But, of course, it’s bad news for one’s mental health and overall physical health, particularly for the liver.


As Oscar Wilde famously said, “Everything in moderation.” But when it comes to drinking, what is moderation exactly?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as reported on the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s website, consider moderate alcohol consumption to be one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. They consider excessive drinking for those over age 21 to include binge drinking and heavy drinking.

CDC defines binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to .08% or more. “This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to five or more drinks on a single occasion for men or four or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about two hours,” reports the site.

Aside from binge drinking, there is also the issue of heavy drinking. The CDC defines that as consuming 15 drinks or more a week (for men) and eight drinks or more a week (for women).

Don’t think one or two drinks can mean double shots or tall glasses of booze. By most standards, including the CDC, one drink is equal to 14 grams or .6 ounces of pure alcohol. A “drink” breaks down like this, typically: 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, or 1.5 ounces of a shot.


If you’ve been binge drinking or drinking heavily, you might consider consulting an addiction specialist or your primary doctor to determine if you are indeed an alcoholic, or suffering from alcohol addiction. In the meantime, you can review the questions below. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, if you answer “yes” to four or more of these 12 questions, then you probably are in trouble with alcohol. Let’s see how you do...

1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?

2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking -- stop telling you what to do?

3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?

4. Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?

5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?

6. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?

7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home?

8. Do you ever try to get "extra" drinks at a party because you do not get enough?

9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don't mean to?

10. Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?

11. Do you have "blackouts"?

12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?

Photo Credit: drink with water, by Carrie Borzillo
Photo Credit: drink with water, by Carrie Borzillo


If you didn’t answer “yes” to four or more of the questions above, but you still want to cut down on the number of adult beverages you’re consuming, there are many ways to do that. Try these 10 tips for curbing your drinking today, but, first, remember to not mix alcohol and prescription medications.

1. Set Goals: Make a list of why you want to cut down. Perhaps it’s because the added calories in booze have contributed to weight gain and a bloated feeling, you’re tired of hangovers, or you just want to maintain a healthier lifestyle to improve your immune system during this pandemic. Whatever your reason, write it down and remind yourself of it daily.

2. Create Limits: Set a limit on how many drinks you will allow yourself to consume a week and stick to it. One to two drinks per week is really the most you should have.

3. Grab a Partner: If you’re quarantined with a loved one or roommate, see if they will join you in this journey. If you’re quarantining alone, find a friend who will check in with you electronically every day. It’s a great way to keep each other accountable and feel supported through the process.

Photo Credit: drink with cheese, by Carrie Borzillo
Photo Credit: drink with cheese, by Carrie Borzillo

4. Delete the Alcohol Apps! With a few clicks, you can have booze delivered to you in 30 minutes via the many alcohol delivery apps available today. Resist this temptation! In fact, try to only have a small amount of your favorite bottles in stock at any given time. Stocking up at the big box stores is also a no-no when you’re trying to cut down.

5. Drink Slowly & Enjoy: If you’re going to have just one drink a week, make it an enjoyable one - a retro cocktail perhaps or a festive skinny margarita - and drink it s-l-o-w-l-y to fully savor your one allotted adult beverage of the day.

6. Pace Yourself: For every alcoholic drink you have, have a glass of water right after it. It’ll fill you up, hydrate you, and cut down on the effects of alcohol.

7. Keep Busy: While many of us are not working and our cities are slow to fully re-open, boredom can get the best of us and lead to unnecessary drinking. Try finding a new hobby, go for a walk, chat with a friend, or binge a new television show.

8. Try a Substitute: Non-alcoholic beer and wine have come a long way in taste. If you’re the type who enjoys to wind down with some wine and cheese, a non-alcoholic version of vino will give you that same taste experience without the booze. Same for craving a cold beer on a hot summer day - there are even non-alcoholic IPAs and craft beer on the market now. Gut healthy kombucha is also a great alternative.

Photo Credit: Manhattan cocktail, by Carrie Borzillo
Photo Credit: Manhattan cocktail, by Carrie Borzillo

9. Have Fun: Make “Sober Sunday” part of your weekly routine. Follow “Sober Sunday” with “Margarita Monday” to make drinking a special event instead of a daily occurrence. Or pair a drink with your favorite movie or TV how - try a Manhattan cocktail while watching “The Manhattan Project” or a Cosmopolitan while binging “Sex and the City.”

10. Drink Only at Dinner: Waiting for your dinner to have your one drink of the day can give you something to look forward to. If you pair your drink with the meal specifically (a robust Cabernet Sauvignon with a steak, or a crisp Chardonnay with fish, for example), it might even be more enjoyable.


Your liver takes a beating with regular alcohol use. Even if you are just a casual drinker, it’s still a good idea to keep your liver health in mind when coming up with your overall nutrition plans. If you're interested in having a healthier liver, please consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice. In the meantime, here are a few simple ways to regularly give your liver a little love...

Eat More Beets

Beetroot juice is really the best way to use this vegetable to your liver’s advantage. It helps to activate the liver enzymes and increase bile, which in turn helps the liver’s detox function. But, let’s face it - beet juice is an acquired taste. Instead, try this recipe for a Beet-Tomato salad that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.

Photo Credit: eat more beets, by Carrie Borzillo
Photo Credit: eat more beets, by Carrie Borzillo

Ingredients (for a single serving)

● 3 small pre-cooked and pre-peeled beets

● 2 ripe Roma tomatoes

● 1 tablespoon of either goat cheese or low-fat feta

● 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

● A splash of balsamic vinegar (optional)


1. Slice the beets thin

2. Slice the tomatoes the same size as beets

3. Arrange joyfully on a chilled plate

4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar

5. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil

Don’t Skip Dark Chocolate

Dating back to the 1600s, chocolate has been used for liver disorder by mixing cocoa with a bit of gum (holli) into a paste to help with dysentery. In modern times, doctors have found that eating dark chocolate can reduce damage to the blood vessels of cirrhotic patients and lowers blood pressure in the liver.

“This study shows a clear association between eating dark chocolate and portal hypertension and demonstrates the potential importance of improvements in the management of cirrhotic patients, to minimize the onset and impact of end-stage liver disease and its associated mortality risks,” Mark Thursz, professor of Hepatology at Imperial College London, told Science Daily.

Add a Little Milk Thistle

Milk thistle, aka, Silybum marianum, is a flowering plant known to act as an herbal liver tonic that you can buy any place that sells vitamins and supplements. It’s high in an antioxidant that is both anti-inflammatory and supports the immune system. Some research studies have shown that it can aid in treating alcoholic liver disease and may even reduce the risk of liver cancer.

Unlike most herbs, milk thistle doesn’t extract well enough to be made into a tea. You buy them as capsules to take daily. But, the best way to use them to detoxify the liver is to eat the fresh ground seeds, which you can sprinkle on your food or mix in with a spoonful of honey for straight does. Milk thistle leaves can also be tossed into salads or sauteed with other greens.

Photo Credit: detox drinks, by Carrie Borzillo
Photo Credit: detox drinks, by Carrie Borzillo

Enjoy Detox Drinks

There’s a plethora of liver detoxifying drinks on the market today in the form of tea, smoothies, and green drinks, as well as powdered cleanse and detox products to mix in with water. One popular tea is Traditional Medicinals’ Organic EveryDay Detox (Lemon) to support healthy skin and liver function, which includes a key liver detoxifier - burdock root.

But you can also make liver detox drinks in your own kitchen. Here’s an easy recipe courtesy of


● 1 cup spring water

● 1/2 lemon

● 2 inches ginger root

● dash ground cloves (optional)

● 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

● 1 tbsp raw local honey or a few drops of stevia optional


1. Peel the ginger root and cut to thin slices.

2. Boil the ginger in water for 5 minutes.

3. Add the cinnamon and cloves (optional).

4. Reduce the heat, cover, and allow them to simmer for additional 5-10 minutes. The longer, the stronger the taste.

5. Strain the tea into your teacup.

6. Squeeze the juice of ½ organic lemon, add into the tea.


Carrie Borzillo is an award-winning Los Angeles-based author and journalist.


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