1 in 4 adults changed their alcohol intake pattern after Covid-19 stay-at-home orders: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 14, 2020 Published on October 14, 2020

People decreased their level of drinking during the lockdown had greater stress and anxiety   -  REUTERS

People who drank more before the lockdown reported higher levels of stress and anxiety

A new study suggests that one in four adults have changed their alcohol consumption pattern almost immediately after the stay-at-home orders amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The researchers surveyed over 900 twin pairs from the Washington State Twin Registry from March 26 to April 5, 2020, when the stay-at-home orders were put in place in the United States.

The survey revealed that 14 per cent of people said they drank more alcohol than the week prior and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not drink alcohol and those whose consumption stayed the same.

Lead author Ally Avery, a scientific operations manager at WSU's Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, said in a statement: “We expected that down the road people might turn to alcohol after the stay-at-home orders were issued, but apparently it happened right off the bat.”

She added: “It shows the need to make sure there is more mental health support since it had an impact on people right away.”

Mental health connection

The study also revealed that 11 per cent who decreased their drinking also had higher levels of stress and anxiety than the groups with no change. This indicated that any change in alcohol use may be associated with mental health issues.

The study did not examine the reasons behind the link between a decrease in drinking and an increase in stress and anxiety.

However, the lead author said one possibility is that these were social drinkers who were missing out on after-work happy hours and socializing.

The researchers chose to study with twins to know whether changes in alcohol use and mental health were mediated by genetic or shared environmental factors.

The researchers found that the association between changes in alcohol use, and stress and anxiety were relatively small and influenced by family factors and demographic characteristics.

Avery added: “Still the link between the pandemic, alcohol use, and stress and anxiety is concerning.”

The researchers are continuing to survey this group at longer intervals to see if the increased drinking persists and whether it gets more pronounced.

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Published on October 14, 2020
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