the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, almost exactly two years ago, New Jerseyans in towns and cities across the state hunkered down, unaware that a global pandemic would render them largely homebound for such a long period of time. Like so many other Americans, New Jerseyans were affected by anxiety – worry about the coronavirus itself, the economic repercussions and what the future may look like in a post-pandemic world. As is the case in more normal times, when people feel stressed or depressed, they reach for the bottle in what they perceive to be a short-term solution.
As the pandemic well and truly set in, two things happened: people began to consume more alcohol, and they spent more time on social media – their primary channel with the outside world. In May 2020, Gov. Murphy signed legislation to allow hotels, motels, bars, and restaurants to sell and deliver alcohol, and people also began to experiment making their own craft cocktails. As the months progressed, the term ‘Quarantini’ entered our mainstream lexicon, becoming a catch-all term for any cocktail made during lockdown, and soon social media was flooded with alcohol-related content. In one study, New Jerseyans’ favorite homemade cocktail during the pandemic was found to be a piña colada.
National rehab directory, Rehabs.com, commissioned a study in which the 100 largest towns and cities in New Jersey were ranked for their number of alcohol-related Instagram posts over the course of the pandemic. The researchers analyzed 5,000 Instagram posts starting from March 2020 – the unofficial start of lockdowns for most states – to identify how many were related to alcohol or being drunk. The results reveal which town/cities posted about it the most, which could possibly indicate a problematic relationship with alcohol.
Rehabs.com made some interesting discoveries: the first being that Bernards, which has a population of just 27,830, came in the number one spot with 392 alcohol-related Instagram posts (per 5,000 posts) during the pandemic. This represents 7.84% of all Instagram posts in that town during that period. This might not be all that surprising when you consider that Bernards is in Somerset County, which has the highest amount of excessive drinkers in the state at 21%, according to County Health Rankings. This places it in the top 10th percentile of the whole country and is higher than the average excessive drinking rate in NJ of 16 percent.
Not far behind came Atlantic City with 377 alcohol/drunk-related posts (per 5,000 posts) during the pandemic for a rate of 7.54%, though it has a slightly larger population of 38,497. Known for its casinos, boardwalks and beaches, the fact that they had a higher number of alcohol/drunk-related posts might be related to the fact that casinos there either shut down or had far fewer visitors.
In 23rd place came Ridgewood, in which there were 336 Instagram posts related to alcohol or being drunk. This represents 6.72% of all posts of its 25,979 residents.
Coming mid-table was Willingboro with 228 alcohol/drunk-related posts representing 4.56% of all posts during that time. And, positively saintly in last place, was the community of West Windsor, which has a population of 29,518. It clocked up just 19 alcohol/drunk-related posts equalling a minimal figure of just 0.38 percent. And this is despite being located in Mercer County which, according to the County Health Rankings, has an excessive drinking rate of 16 percent.
Infographic ranking NJ’s towns and cities by their alcohol-related social media posts (click on ‘embed’ to host on your own site)
While the term “alcoholism” is clinically ambiguous and out of use, Rehabs.com have included below some signs to be aware of that that are indicative of problematic relationship with alcohol:
- Difficulty controlling one’s level of alcohol consumption.
- Wanting to decrease or stop drinking alcohol but being unable to do so.
- Developing a higher tolerance for alcohol and needing more over time to reach the desired effects.
- Experiencing alcohol cravings when not drinking as well as withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, shaking and nausea.
- Facing personal problems at home, work, or school due to alcohol use.