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Doctors are noticing patients are drinking more, fuelling more hospitalizations

From the Toronto Star article

In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sam Elfassy noticed a worrying trend.

The gastroenterologist at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto often asks patients about their drinking habits, as he treats chronic illnesses in the liver. But the responses he began to receive were alarming: most of his patients said they were drinking more than before, even those who never drank regularly.

As the pandemic endures, physicians worry these concerning trends will continue. Dr. Andrew Pinto, a family physician with Unity Health in Toronto, said some signs are already pointing toward yes.

“In my clinical work, I’ve seen more folks who are drinking, and usually it’s part of coping with stress,” Pinto said.

He added stress is creeping up again among his patients as of late, with the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the enduring uncertainty. This, especially when the pandemic felt like it was nearing its end in the fall, when case numbers were low.

“Things seemed like they were getting better, and now again it’s become a very challenging situation,” Pinto said. He worries most about who have lost their jobs or income, those with precarious housing and those coping alone without any social support.

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