Longer Time Spent at Home During COVID-19 Pandemic Is Associated With Binge Drinking Among Us Adults
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced and exacerbated stressors (e.g., job loss, poor mental health) for adults across the United States (US) since the first statewide shelter-in-place order on March 19, 2020. Limited research has evaluated if, and how, pandemic-related stressors are associated with changes in alcohol consumption and binge alcohol use.
This analysis aims to identify COVID-19-related stressors associated with changes in alcohol consumption and binge alcohol use since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Data were collected on sociodemographics, alcohol consumption, and COVID-19-related stressors (household composition, job status, essential worker, stay-at-home duration, and depression) using a web-based, self-report survey to US adults from mid-March to mid-April 2020. Multivariable logistic and multinomial regression models were used to assess associations between COVID-19-related stressors and binge alcohol use and changes in alcohol consumption. Among 1,982 participants, 69% were female and 31% male.
Thirty-four percent of the sample reported binge alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic. More binge alcohol users increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic (60%) than non-binge alcohol users (28%). After adjusting for sociodemographics, for every 1-week increase in time spent at home during the pandemic, there was 1.21 (95% CI: 1.08–1.35) greater odds of binge alcohol use. Additionally, binge alcohol users with a previous diagnosis of depression and current depression symptoms had greater odds of increased alcohol consumption compared to those reporting no depression (AOR = 1.80, 95% CI: 1.15–2.81).
Specific COVID-19-related stressors are related to alcohol consumption. This highlights the ancillary and unintended effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which could have long-lasting population health consequences.
Research in context
Out of those who engaged in binge alcohol use during the pandemic those who were classified as binge alcohol users increased their alcohol consumption more than non-binge alcohol users. A concerning finding is that binge alcohol users with a history and current diagnosis of depression were more likely to report consuming more alcohol during the pandemic, compared to those with no previous or current diagnosis. The study authors also found that the longer participants spent sheltering at home, the greater the odds of risky patterns in alcohol use.
Our results indicate that those who spent more time at home during the early stages of the pandemic were more likely to consume alcohol at unhealthy levels. This was particularly concerning for those with a previous diagnosis of depression and current depressive symptoms,” said Sitara Weerakoon, MPH, first and corresponding study author and a doctoral candidate at UTHealth School of Public Health, as per Eureka Alert.Sitara Weerakoon, MPH, first and corresponding study author, doctoral candidate at UTHealth School of Public Health