LOS ANGELES (CNS) - American adults have sharply increased their consumption of alcohol during the shutdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, with women increasing their heavy drinking episodes -- four or more drinks within a couple of hours -- by 41%, according to a study released today by a Santa Monica-based think tank.
RAND Corp.'s national survey found that the overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by 14% among adults over age 30, compared to the same time last year. The increase was 19% among all adults aged 30 to 59, 17% among women and 10% among non-Hispanic white adults, according to the study findings, which are published as a research letter in the journal JAMA Network Open.
“We've had anecdotal information about people buying and consuming more alcohol, but this is some of the first survey-based information that shows how much alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic,'' said Michael Pollard, lead author of the study and a sociologist at RAND.
“Alcohol consumption can have significant negative health consequences, so this information suggests another way that the pandemic may be affecting the physical and mental health of Americans,'' Pollard said.
Researchers say that the alcohol spike seen among women, younger adults and non-Hispanic white individuals highlights the need for primary care providers, behavioral health providers and family members to be aware of the risks of increased alcohol use and heavy drinking during the pandemic.
The findings also suggests that future research should examine whether increases in alcohol use persist as the pandemic continues, and whether psychological and physical well-being are subsequently affected.
The study was based on a survey of 1,540 adults who were queried about their alcohol consumption during the spring of 2019 and again in spring 2020 during the early months of the pandemic shutdown.