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Home » Uncategorized » Alcohol sales are increasing, and that’s a concern

Alcohol sales are increasing, and that’s a concern


by Edward M.Rubin, Chair of the Unified Prevention Coalition

This article is part of the Unified Prevention Coalition for Doña Ana County’s bi-monthly guest column in the Las Cruces Sun-News. Visit their site to learn more.

Saturday, June 6, 2020; Las Cruces, NM: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, alcohol sales across the United States have surged. In many states, alcohol outlets have been designated as essential businesses and sales of alcohol have increased by 55 percent by the end of March when we were all urged to stay at home according to Newsweek. In New Mexico, liquor stores have not been considered as essential; however, alcohol has been readily available in many other outlets, such as supermarkets and gas stations.

The World Health Organization has specifically warned about alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO advised that alcohol consumption during emergencies can intensify health vulnerabilities, risk-taking behavior, violence and mental health and substance abuse issues.

For many of us, this is the most stressful period we have ever experienced. Anxiety or depression is heightened for many people as they worry about COVID-19, and the social isolation and distancing from family, friends and support networks, not being able to work, economic uncertainty and being stuck in the house for too long. These factors may contribute to people self-medicating with alcohol or to fill their time by drinking out of boredom. Adding to this concern is the fact that alcohol increases risks of conflict and domestic violence. Also, people who drink, smoke or use other substances may already have impaired immune systems, which increases their risk of infection by COVID-19.

Over time, alcohol impairs the body’s immune function and especially the lungs’ ability to combat infection.

The Unified Prevention Coalition of Doña Ana County (UP!) encourages people to limit their alcohol consumption as one step that can be taken to stay healthy. Also never provide alcohol to those under the age of 21, the legal drinking age in the United States.

In addition to the steps individuals can take, there are measures cities and municipalities can take to reduce potential alcohol-related harms by limiting the hours and days of alcohol sales and limiting the amount of alcohol that can be purchased at one time.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Taskforce on Community Prevention Services advises that if cities take steps to reduce alcohol availability, they could prevent excessive alcohol use and mitigate the multitude of related harms.

UP! Coalition recently completed mapping alcohol outlet density and its impact on crime in Las Cruces. The resulting report and its recommendations are now available for download at our website. The New Mexico Community Data Collaborative has the resulting maps of the study available for the public to access online, and tutorial videos on how to navigate the maps available on YouTube.

Taking advantage of this opportunity to provide sensible limits on alcohol sales will protect the public from a potential surge in alcohol-related violence, as well as reduce the likelihood of the myriad of other potential physical and mental health issues that could arise.

For information on UP! Coalition, the Alcohol Density Report or the resulting maps of Las Cruces’ alcohol outlets and crime visit our website.

For information on UP! contact Alyssa Myrick at 575-597-0042 or email or follow the Unified Prevention Coalition for Doña Ana County on Facebook

This column is made available by the Unified Prevention (UP!) Coalition for Doña Ana County, a program of the Center for Health Innovation. Edward M.Rubin, PsyD., is chair of the Unified Prevention Coalition.