Alcohol consumption and related harms were increasing in the United States prior the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for women. During 2020, the first year of the pandemic, alcohol consumption increased more than at any time in the past 50 years. Deaths from alcohol jumped 25%, more than during the prior 10 years combined. Many people who drank more during the pandemic did so in an effort to cope with stress. Unfortunately, drinking to cope with stress is a maladaptive strategy that increases the likelihood of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD) and contributes to worsening mental and physical health over time. In this presentation, we will explore our rapidly evolving understanding of the relationship between alcohol and mental wellbeing, examine effective options for helping people avoid developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and discuss strategies for promoting long-term sustainable recovery for people who develop AUD.