Opinon | Drinking alone in the time of COVID-19

By Genna Edwards, Staff Columnist

I usually shy away from drinking alone. As I grew up watching American television, the image of a sad, greasy, single dude slouched over a bar came to haunt me — I associated drinking alone with being loveless, unlovable, having terrible fashion sense.

Now that I’ve actually turned 21 — last November, woot woot — my opinion on the subject has changed a bit. For the most part I started my drinking life socially, sharing a cold one with the boys on a night out, maybe having a glass of wine at the end of a long day.

But now that there is no true “social drinking” to be found — yes, I see you, Zoom hangouts, but I’m not that kind of chap — drinking alone has become my new favorite activity. I bought a really nice bottle of wine right as the COVID-19 scares started to hit the news, thinking maybe I’d need it later, and boy was I right. I expected to feel, well, kind of like a loser, drinking alone in my little South Oakland bedroom, but the exact opposite happened. I felt awesome.

Turns out when I’m drunk by myself, I’m not worried at all about other people being able to see me and make judgments on whatever ridiculous goth outfit I’m wearing — turns out drinking alone is a little bit freeing. I can listen to whatever music I want, no need to fight for the aux cord, and the best part of it all? For a collection of fleeting moments, I can live in a world without the coronavirus.

There’s definitely a stigma when it comes to drinking alone as drinking alone, in excess, can be a sign of developing alcoholism in the future. Drinking alone can indeed turn into a problem if you turn to it as your only way to self-medicate and regulate your emotions. But right now is different — right now, we’re in the midst of a terrifying global pandemic. This definitely changes social norms surrounding what is and isn’t OK to indulge in.

The World Health Organization has labeled alcohol as an “unhelpful” coping strategy during this pandemic, but everyone’s doing it anyway. People across the nation are upping their alcohol intake right now. If so many people are doing it, it can’t be entirely bad, right?

For a lot of people, alcohol may only serve to remind them of the darkness of the times. There are really two ways being drunk right now can go — you either get smashed and dance around and feel oddly, amazingly normal, or you accidentally come across a corona meme on Instagram and now you’re drunk and in a thought spiral about disinfecting your house so you don’t, like, die.

If you make sure to not turn on the news and not blow through the Internet like a bull in a china shop, being drunk alone right now can be super liberating. I, for one, compiled a playlist of my favorite early 2000s hits and pretended we were back in my Golden Age, when Disney Channel was good and pop punk was respectable — you can’t beat early Demi Lovato and a bottle of pinot, I swear on the gods.

Or, if you still like visual media while drunk but are avoiding any possible reminder of COVID-19, binge watch your favorite TV show. Scroll through Pinterest. Revisit Tumblr for some nice moody pictures of sunsets and stuff. Really, there are so many ways to drink alone right now that don’t end with you crying on the floor or crafting rage emails to the White House.

If you are the type of person to enjoy drinking with buds over Zoom — here’s looking at you, oh extroverts of the world — that’s a great option too. Once you’re tipsy enough, you might even forget that hospitals across the country are in dire need of funds that President Donald Trump won’t deliver! Honestly, a few beers is all you need to make this nightmare go away, for at least a few hours.

Not that I support alcohol as your only coping mechanism, per se. Drinking alone can be beneficial as a good distraction during these times, but you need to monitor your intake and make sure it’s not the only activity in which you’re partaking.

Drinking alone is totally normal and OK. As long as you’re drinking responsibly and enjoying alcohol rather than using it as your only crutch, there’s really no harm. Simply be mindful and balance drinking with other, more productive coping skills — walking outside, calling your friends, eating healthy, rewatching “Community.” Paired with these other coping methods, enjoying a glass of wine or two during the day hurts no one.

Shaming people for doing what they need to do right now to cope doesn’t help anyone. If there’s ever been a time in the world to indulge in your family’s history of alcoholism, look, I won’t say anything. Whatever we need to get through this will make it all worth it in the end. If what you need is a cold gin and tonic, more power to ya.

To send you off toward your 5 o’clock somewhere, here’s a little quarantine cocktail recipe created by yours truly. I clink my imaginary glass to yours — clink clink!

Quarantini for One


Orange juice


Half a lemon

1 N95 mask

Cran-grape juice

Directions: Think about the complete ineptitude of our sitting president. Upon thinking about this, put all ingredients away except the vodka. Measure out one shot and then remember that the GOP is trying to restrict abortion access during a global pandemic — to heck with it, chug straight from the bottle. Wake up a day later and repeat until one day, maybe, we can go to bars again.