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Montana March alcohol sales spiked amidst pandemic shutdowns

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 5/12/20

People in Montana have long turned to the Bible or the bottle to pacify their woes, and it seems the latter gained some purchase in March, according to Montana Public Radio. MTPR cited data from the Montana Department of Revenue, which reported “liquor sales from the department to the 95 agency liquor stores across the state rose about 20 percent in March of this year compared to this time in 2019.” Those figures are typical of holiday season sales in December and January. Fortunately, sales dipped back to normalcy in April, possibly as the initial shock of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns wore off, though “the agency couldn’t speculate about how the rise in alcohol sales may be impacting individual drinking habits or potential binge drinking in Montana.” Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have Montana ranked amongst the top states for prevalence of binge drinking—five or more drinks in a single occasion for men, and four or more for women—and Montana is among nine states where the prevalence of binge drinking adults increased between 2011 and 2017. According to Jeff Quackenbush, administrator at Rocky Mountain Treatment Center, there hasn’t been an increase in people seeking treatment yet, something he expects to change: “The friend of addiction is isolation. And so whenever you’re locked in isolation it causes more relapses.”

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