Dubuque County experts reporting noticeable increase in alcohol consumption since pandemic began

The Substance Abuse Services Center is reporting higher levels of alcohol consumption in Dubuque County, that lead to over 800 admissions to a hospital.
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 9:30 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - It has been a busy year for Sid’s Beverage Store on Highway 20 in Dubuque.

“Especially during the peak of COVID last year when it was a full shut down, yeah, our liquor sales were through the roof,” said manager Scott Huff. “We were doing holiday numbers on a weekday and it was sort of unprecedented honestly.”

Huff said, while bars and restaurants closed because of the pandemic, that meant people just had to pick up their alcohol and drink it elsewhere.

“I did not realize how much people were drinking at bars until they were closed,” he said. “That is when our numbers were just through the roof, could not keep it on the shelf.“

The Substance Abuse Services Center (SASC) watches this closely in Dubuque County. Colton Fleege, a prevention specialist, said what they noticed last year is alarming.

“I think 829 admissions to our, to just one of two hospitals in our town is a strong indicator that it’s of concern, 646 of those were to the emergency room,” Fleege said.

Not just people putting themselves in danger, but also others on the roads: 365 cases of drunk driving, county-wide, in 2020.

“That is one for every single calendar day of the year,” Fleege said. ”The statistics, they are consistently above average.”

Fleege said SASC has a mission to tell people that it is always okay to get help if the situation gets out of control.

“I think one of the major barriers regarding alcohol use in our community is not only the normalcy of drinking and drinking behavior, but also the stigma associated with seeking treatment for that,” he said.

People struggling with alcohol addiction are encouraged to visit yourlifeiowa.org or to call SASC at (563) 582-3784.

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