alcohol, alcoholism, addiction

Study Finds More Binge Drinking During Stay-at-Home Lockdowns

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sitara Weerakoon, MPH (she/her) PhD Candidate | Epidemiology & Biostatistics Graduate Research Assistant Center for Pediatric Population Health UTHealth

Sitara Weerakoon

Sitara Weerakoon, MPH (she/her)
PhD Candidate | Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Graduate Research Assistant
Center for Pediatric Population Health
UTHealth

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Measures to control the spread of COVID-19 included stay-at-home mandates and business lockdown policies which resulted in many facing a loss of income or employment and more time spent isolated at home. Life stressors (like job loss and social isolation) have been shown to be associated with increased drinking at unhealthy levels. Those with a history of mental health problems may be even more at risk.

We aimed to see if binge drinking (5 or more drinks [male] or 4 or more drinks [female] in one session) and levels of alcohol consumption among binge drinkers were impacted by these pandemic-related factors. We found that increased time spent at home (in weeks) was associated with a 19% increase in the odds of binge drinking and binge drinkers with a previous diagnosis of depression and current depression symptoms (during the early months of the pandemic) had a 237% greater odds of drinking more alcohol (vs drinking the same amount) compared to those with no history and current symptoms of depression.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: 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, and it was particularly concerning for those with a previous diagnosis of depression and current depressive symptoms. We hope that public health and clinical experts consider these ancillary associations of the pandemic and develop programs and opportunities to overcome them. We also hope that the public will consider healthier alternatives to consuming alcohol especially under situations of extreme stress like a pandemic.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further research implementing a longitudinal design may be useful to evaluate how alcohol consumption may have changed over time since the pandemic continues to impact people’s lives.

Any disclosures? The authors have no conflicts of interest or funding sources to disclose.

Citation:

SM Weerakoon, KK Jetelina, G Knell. Longer time spent at home during COVID-19 pandemic is associated with binge drinking among US adults.American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Dec. 7, 2020; DOI: 10.1080/00952990.2020.1832508

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