Gray area drinking increases during pandemic

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 3:41 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s a question treatment counselors say more and more people are asking themselves as the pandemic drags on.

That question; am I a gray area drinker?

“A lot of people will see themselves in that space of not knowing for sure if they have a problematic drinking pattern,” says Tina Marie Baeten, a clinical supervisor at the Jackie Nitschke Center in Green Bay.

She says the pandemic has raised awareness about gray area drinking, as treatment centers have seen a significant increase in the amount of alcohol many people are consuming.

“Prior to the pandemic, people were doing a lot more social drinking and during the pandemic there’s a lot of isolative drinking and that actually many times people would say I don’t have a problem because I don’t drink alone, and then the pandemic really brought about more drinking alone and I think that really brought people to think whoa, ok, is this a problem now or how much am I drinking, or now that they’re back into a social environment, their drinking has increased significantly and their tolerance has increased significantly, so they’re starting to question their drinking patterns,” says Baeten.

If you’re one of those people, Baeten advises to keep track of how often you drink, be open to hearing concerns from family or friends, and do some self-reflection.

“When they’re going to reach for a drink, what is it about, is it about relief drinking, is it about social fun, is it because they’re bored, there’s all kinds of reasons people will reach out for a drink. A lot of gray area drinkers will attempt to control their use and slip back into a more excessive pattern and in those situations it’s really good for them to consider seeking help if they can’t seem to reel it in or can’t seem to have more control or limit their drinking,” says Baeten.

Nationwide, 16-percent of people who drink are considered excessive drinkers.

In Wisconsin, where Baeten says drinking is more socially acceptable, the number climbs to 25-percent.

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