By Cara Murez
Researchers conducted an online survey of nearly 2,000 American adults from mid-March to mid-April 2020, coinciding with a stay-at-home order linked to a pandemic (“lockdown”). Based on the responses, each participant was classified as a heavy drinker, heavy non-drinker, or non-drinker.
About 32% of respondents reported binge drinking during the pandemic, and heavy drinkers had increased their alcohol during this period compared to before the lockout. Heavy non-drinkers consumed the same amount of alcohol as before, according to the results.
The odds of binge drinking among heavy drinkers – considered to be men who had five or more drinks and women who had four or more drinks in two hours – increased by an additional 19% for each week of orders. home.
The likelihood of an increase in alcohol consumption among heavy drinkers was more than double that of people who did not drink excessively: 60% versus 28%. This was especially true for those with the Depression or a history of the disease, the researchers discovered.
“Increased time spent at home is a stressor that affects alcohol use, and the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated this stress,” said researcher Sitara Weerakoon, a doctoral student at the University of Texas.
“Future research should take into account the potential of depressive symptoms to act as a moderator [a factor that changes the impact] in the relationship between time spent under a shelter-in-place warrant and excessive alcohol consumption, ”she added.
The study was published online Dec. 7 in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
“More research is needed to develop the best treatment for people with substance use disorders who may be more likely to experience adverse health effects,” Weerakoon said in a press release.
Researchers found that heavy drinkers drank an average of four drinks per occasion during the pandemic. They had a maximum of seven drinks on one occasion. Non-heavy drinkers drank two drinks on average and at most.
Investigators analyzed various factors and found that, on average, respondents had been locked up for four weeks, spending 21 hours a day at home. About 72% did not leave their homes for work.
Limitations of the study include the fact that the survey data was self-reported and that the question on heavy drinking did not specify the length of time during which alcohol was consumed. The majority of survey participants were high-wage earners, which is a factor associated with unsafe alcohol consumption.
To avoid lasting health consequences, the researchers called for new intervention and prevention strategies for people isolation who risk drinking unsafe drinking.
The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a national helpline.
SOURCE: American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, press release, December 7, 2020