WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (CBS) -- While there are many memes and jokes about drinking and virtual happy hours during the coronavirus quarantine, experts are warning that social distancing and alcohol use can lead to long-term problems. Drinking while in isolation could be a huge problem.
Dr. Argie Allen Wilson is a therapist based in Wynnewood.
"Humans, they look for some level of a release, right? We're looking for coping skills and there are positive coping mechanisms and there are negative coping mechanisms," she said.
Experts say drinking and substance use while social distancing could uncover underlying abuse issues or cause someone to relapse.
Allen Wilson says while we all cope with social isolation, we also need to make sure we're not doing more harm than good.
"What's happening is, people are experiencing extreme loss," she said. "Not just the loss or death of a loved one, but the loss of the lives that we once knew. Loss of the engagement that we came to enjoy so much and those things are becoming more and more depressing."
They could lead to stress, triggering a relapse or increased use.
She says while they're popular, virtual happy hours with friends and family could be a double-edged sword.
"You have to assess how much of this is risky and much of it will benefit you," Allen Wilson said. "And I would say for most cases, the benefit outweighs the risk because many of us are trying to find these alternate ways to stay engaged."
She says to limit your use and the number of virtual happy hours you're taking part in.
"Put some boundaries in place," she said. "Anything in its extreme can be not so healthy for us. But things in moderation can be totally fine."
Alcoholics Anonymous is offering counseling and online meetings via ZOOM, Google Hangouts and conference calls. If you suspect you have a drinking problem, you can access help by following this link.
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