How Alcohol Can Lower Your Guard Amid Pandemic: Doctor

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As careful as you might be to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol poses risks too.

Rushford at Meriden provides outpatient programs and services to address issues related to mental health and substance use disorders and Dr. J. Craig Allen, the medical director, said alcohol and recreational drugs can lower inhibitions.

At a time when people are urged to wear masks in public and stay at least six feet away from each other when they are not wearing a mask, lowered inhibitions can be dangerous.

“Something like social distancing is not a natural thing to do. Our brains are developed, human beings are developed, to be social creatures,” Allen said.

“So, when we have to do something that is unnatural or different, we have to fire up the part of the brain that’s called the prefrontal cortex. We have to plan. We have to prioritize. We have to be vigilant,” he added.

When you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs, like marijuana, that part of the brain is affected, he said.

“So, you go back to your normal activities. You’re feeling good. You’re feeling happy. The part of your brain that’s supposed to be vigilant and stopping those impulses or slowing them down is being slowed down by the alcohol,” Allen said.

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Connecticut went from being a COVID-19 hot spot to having some of the lowest COVID-19 rates in the country while cases are rising in other parts of the United States.

We are also entering the season when people are holding outdoor parties and barbecues and alcohol is often part of the menu.

Allen said we can do our part to keep Connecticut’s progress going as we approach the next phase of reopening and get closer to schools reopening by being vigilant.

“I like to think of it as physical distancing. Social distancing sort of puts that idea in your head as, well social distancing it’s six feet, right? And they have a couple of drinks, you become disinhibited and social distancing is closer somehow,” Allen said.

He recommended that people who are going to parties have a plan to stay physically distant or wear a mask.

“You’re really putting everyone else at risk. You’re putting yourself at risk, your family at risk and you’re putting the state at risk,” Allen said.

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