Alcohol Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Survey of US Adults
Emerging but limited evidence suggests that alcohol consumption has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This study assessed:
- whether alcohol use behaviors changed during the pandemic; and,
- how those changes were impacted by COVID-19-related stress.
The researchers conducted a cross-sectional online survey with a convenience sample of U.S. adults over 21 years in May 2020.
The researchers conducted adjusted linear regressions to assess COVID-19 stress and alcohol consumption, adjusting for gender, race, ethnicity, age, and household income. A total of 832 responded: 84% female, 85% White, and 72% ages 26 to 49 years.
Participants reported consuming 26.8 alcohol drinks on 12.2 of the past 30 days. One-third of participants (34.1%) reported binge alcohol use and 7.0% reported extreme binge alcohol consumption.
Participants who experienced COVID-19-related stress (versus not) reported consuming more alcoholic drinks and a greater number of days consuming alcohol.
Additionally, 60% reported increased alcohol use but 13% reported decreased alcohol consumption, compared to pre-COVID-19.
Reasons for increased alcohol use included
- increased stress (45.7%),
- increased alcohol availability (34.4%), and
- boredom (30.1%).
Participants who reported being stressed by the pandemic consumed more alcoholic drinks over a greater number of days, which raises concerns from both an individual and public health perspective.
Alcohol use in the U.S. is a public health problem that appears to have worsened since the onset of COVID-19.
Adults during COVID-19 reported high levels of alcohol consumption, with those who reported high levels of impact from COVID-19 reporting significantly more alcohol (both more days and total alcoholic drinks) than participants who were not as impacted by COVID-19.
Additionally, participants reported perceived increases in their current alcohol intake compared to pre-COVID-19.
Given the findings of this and similar studies, it is important for states to consider both economic and public health concerns when making decisions on U.S. alcohol policy in order to protect individuals, their families, and their communities from the longer-term impacts of increased alcohol intake.”Elyse R. Grossman, Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon, Susan Sonnenschein, study authors