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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are doubling down on their worst habits to cope with the mental and emotional stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on the health of the American people, in part due to the habits they'll pick up during the weeks and months they're forced to stay home.

Details: Substance abuse, a lack of physical stimulation and unhealthy diets are beginning to take a toll on Americans.

  • Alcohol sales were up 55% in the week ending March 21, according to Nielsen, which measures media as well as consumer markets. Spirits were up 75%, followed by wine up 66% and beer up 42%. Online alcohol sales were up 243%.
  • Weed sales are soaring in places across the country where buying marijuana is legal, although some businesses have been caught flat-footed by the demand.
  • Porn consumption is up, according to the website Pornhub. Traffic from the U.S. (Pornhub’s largest market) was up 6.4% on March 17.
  • People are eating more. With consumers relying mostly on nonperishable foods, like pasta and canned food, many are concerned about gaining weight — the "COVID-15" or the "quarantine 15."
  • And they're exercising less. According to data from 68,000 fitness trackers, Americans are moving less and sleeping more under quarantine, per CNBC. While many workouts have moved online, some are finding it difficult to get into a good workout routine at home or to find the time to do so while balancing work and child care duties.

Americans are streaming more television than ever before, and as a result, more people are binge-watching their favorite shows, meaning they're watching three or more episodes from a series at a time.

  • Gaming has also boomed. Twitch, Mixer, Caffeine and Discord, all new-age livestream gaming platforms, posted their best revenue-generating month in March, according to data from Apptopia.

The big picture: We already know that the coronavirus outbreak is starting to weigh on Americans’ mental and emotional health, according to the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index poll.

  • That's not likely to get any better as Americans overindulge in their favorite vices while they wait out the pandemic.
  • In addition, increased fear and stress are causing Americans to act out and embrace their worst instincts. There's some evidence that domestic violence is skyrocketing since the outbreak of the virus, and experts worry that more is on the way, according to Axios' Ina Fried.
  • Firearms sales have surged over the past month, too. March was the second-busiest month ever for gun sales, per the New York Times, and Axios' Stef Kight reports that the FBI processed 3.7 million gun background checks in March, more than any previous month.

The bottom line: The coronavirus lockdown is unhealthy for Americans on many levels — but it is keeping us alive.

Go deeper: The coronavirus' toll on our mental and emotional health

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"