Coronavirus Pandemic Panic Seems Like The Perfect Excuse to Drink And Use – Here’s Why It’s Actually The Worst Idea Ever

Fact Checked and Peer Reviewed

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

This past week I’ve become completely addicted to reading about Coronavirus. The more I read, the more my panic mounts.

Here in LA, my comedy shows are starting to be sparsely attended. Massage clients aren’t calling. It seems stupid to go anywhere I don’t have to.  The grocery store is almost out of toilet paper, and completely out of hand sanitizer. Every day the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases rises exponentially. As my fear grew, so did a voice in my head that said, “Well, you’re stuck at home. You may as well get drunk and high.” 

At first, it seems like a great idea. Yeah, sure, I’ve built a life worth living by being sober, but now the world appears to be crashing around me. What’s the point? It’s too stressful. I just want to shut it off.

I suspect I am not the only person feeling this way. But the more the other parts of my mind investigated this idea, the more I saw that it’s actually one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. And that? Is saying A LOT.

Here are some reasons why getting drunk or high right now is a no good, very bad, idea:

1. Drinking and Using Lowers Immunity

The first place drugs and alcohol go once in the body is the gut. Once there they wreak havoc on the gut’s biome, interfering with the way it interacts with the immune system, making us immediately more susceptible to getting sick. If we’re smoking things, that’s weakening the lungs, the exact place that the worst cases of Coronavirus are settling. On the way to the lungs and gut, every system drugs and alcohol hits weaken that area, lowering immunity. I’m also not hydrating or eating vitamin-rich foods when I’m messed up. Even if I was, my body wouldn’t absorb them.

Furthermore, this isn’t the only sickness in the town. There are so many ways to get sick from drinking and using. What a sad irony if I overdosed or became severely ill from alcohol poisoning while quarantining from one specific illness. Hospitals and doctor’s offices are getting overwhelmed with the pandemic – and may not have the time or attention to care for me should I become sick from an easily avoidable complication of getting drunk or high.

2. My Misery Would Increase

The first drink or hit might be grand, but eventually, I’m going to have to deal with the comedown or my body saying “NO MORE!” And when that happens, I’m going to be in a place where my brain is already overwhelmed by all the bad news and fear.

I can’t imagine a hangover or cocaine comedown punctuated by the increasingly terrifying Coronavirus news reports. Every hangover or comedown I have ever had has been accompanied by such low serotonin and dopamine levels that everything seemed so much worse. My brain will search and search until I find something – anything – to feel worse about. With things are bad as they already are out there, I cannot, and will not, afford that. I could be reading, writing, making art, catching up over the phone with friends, deep cleaning my home, cooking, doing yoga, playing with my dog, or, in bed wanting to die from a horrible comedown/ hangover.

Hospitals and doctor’s offices are getting overwhelmed with the pandemic – and may not have the time or attention to care for me should I become sick from an easily avoidable complication of getting drunk or high.

3.  I Would End Up Going Back Out For More

The last time I drank I went on a nitrous oxide binge. I lived in the West Village of Manhattan at the time and despite telling myself over and over that this was the last case of cartridges, I found myself getting dressed and walking to a smoke shop many times at all hours of the morning because my brain kept shouting, “MORE!” No matter how much drugs or alcohol I think will be enough, it never once has been. Even when I’m puking my guts up, I’m thinking of putting vodka in my butt.

If I start getting messed up during quarantine, and I start running out, I’m going anywhere to get more. I’ve driven drunk through snowstorms across state lines to get a blow. I won’t be washing my hands, and I will be touching my face. If my dealer or liquor store guy is coughing, I will completely ignore it. I’ll probably give them a hug.

I can’t imagine a hangover or cocaine comedown punctuated by the increasingly terrifying Coronavirus news reports.

4. I Won’t Even Know If I’m Legitimately Sick

I get drunk and high to disconnect from my body and mind, the exact things I need to communicate with to know if I’m getting sick. I won’t remember whom I’ve been in contact with. I won’t know much of what I’ve said, or done, or where I have gone. I won’t even know how long.

I used to cough so much when smoking even just weed I would pee myself. I’m not gonna have a goddamn clue what’s going on with me. It’s impossible to sort out real illness from the negative effects of drugs and alcohol. I won’t know. And what’s worse? I won’t care.

5. Drugs and Alcohol are the LAST Things I Need to Spend on Right Now

I’m a stand up comic. I have no clue what upcoming gigs that I need to pay rent will be canceled. SXSW was canceled. Current projections predict many more events will be canceled due to the Coronavirus. I also do massage. Like I said earlier, nobody’s booking appointments. Also, many people are being ordered to work from home right now. Getting drunk and high on the clock could cost them their jobs. The stock market fell so much the other day they halted trading.

We have no clue what the economy is going to look like going forward, or how secure any of our incomes are. When I get scared about money, my brain wants to spend to soothe itself, but that coping mechanism only makes things worse. I have never once spent the amount of money I planned to spend on drugs and alcohol. It is always more, more, more. And the higher and drunker I get, the less I care. I’ll open up another credit card and get a cash advance if I feel like it. Drunk, high me does not give half a shit about future me. My thirst for a binge is endless. And once my money is gone to drugs and alcohol, I’m not going to be able to stock up – I won’t be financially or even physically able to go buy dog food, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, paper goods And what if LA county orders a Coronavirus quarantine like in Italy? I’ll have drank and used myself into a corner, and one with no toilet paper.

There is no problem that I have ever had that I can’t make worse by choosing to drink and use drugs, and that includes Coronavirus. If you’re anything like me, I urge you to think critically about what I have laid out here, and perhaps use this scary natural disaster unfolding to think about how drugs and alcohol have a negative impact on all of life, no matter what’s going on in the outside world. When things get extreme, it’s easier to see the effects that certain behaviors can have. It becomes, quite literally, do or die. I guarantee you will get through this crisis easier on every level, especially on the level where it’s already affected us all – mentally – if you don’t drink, don’t do drugs, and, you know, wash your hands.


Rebecca Rush is an LA based, NY bred comedian and writer. She hosts a podcast called Comic’s Book Club and a monthly themed show called Vulnerability at El Cid Sunset the first Tuesday of the month at 8 pm. She has been featured on Viceland and Funny or Die. Notable podcast appearances include YKWD, Race Wars, The Dork Forest, PepTalks, and Cumia. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including Fodor’s Travel, Miami New Times, The Dyrt, and The Fix, The Temper, and Workit Health. She is currently finishing a memoir in essays. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

Free 5 week Recovery Roadmap course from Workit Health

Sign up for our free course.

Get more advice, tips, and tricks by subscribing 
to our weekly newsletter.