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Health officials worried about hoarding of alcohol as means of self-medication

By WCBS Staff

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    New York (WCBS) -- Among the few businesses booming during this pandemic is the alcohol industry. But health officials worry strong sales mean customers are self-medicating at home while battling growing anxiety.

Stressed out by the coronavirus and drinking your woes away?

You’re far from the only one. From liquor stores to wine distributors, bottles are flying off shelves, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.

“We were selling to at least three times as many customers as we normally are and their order sizes are bigger,” said Melissa Saunders, a wine importer for Communal Brands.

Saunders said she can hardly keep up with the demand. She believes it’s because customers are looking for a source of comfort in these difficult times.

“It seems that people are taking the same hoarding mentality that they have with toilet paper with wine,” Saunders said.

Health officials are afraid the fear caused by the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a spike in the substance abuse epidemic.

“It would be ironic if we minimized transmission of coronavirus and forced everybody to self isolate, and the people who are most vulnerable end up dying of overdoses or suicides,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family & Children’s Association.

Health officials say with recovery meetings canceled, it’s important those struggling know there’s help online. Treatment centers like the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence are offering tele-health services on your phone or computer, Fan reported.

“Oftentimes with stress, fear, and anxiety leads to self medication. We on Long Island here have seen lines down the block, people parking on the street for liquor stores,” LICADD Executive Director Steve Chassman said.

Doctors say excess amounts of alcohol can also suppress your immune system – bad news in the middle of a global pandemic.

So how much is too much? Health officials say no more than two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women.

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