Covid-19 lockdowns set trend of binge drinking, study finds

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 07, 2020

The coronavirus-induced frequent lockdowns have led to the overconsumption of spirits, according to a study published in the journal American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

The study, based on a survey of 2,000 adults in the United States, found a relationship between hazardous drinking and life stresses triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns.

The findings of the study revealed overall intake of alcohol during the lockdowns- those who, within two hours, consumed over five drinks for men and over four for women - rose an extra 19 per cent for every week of lockdown.

The odds of increased alcohol intake overall for binge drinkers were more than double than that of who did not drink excessively (60 per cent vs 28 per cent). The trend was higher in those struggling with depression.

The study further highlighted that during the pandemic, binge drinkers on average drank four drinks per occasion, compared to two drinks among non-binge drinkers.

Living with children in lockdown minimally reduced the odds (by 26 per cent) of turning to the bottle for people in general.

"Increased time spent at home is a life stressor that impacts drinking and the Covid-19 pandemic may have exacerbated this stress," says Sitara Weerakoon, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Texas.

Weerakoon added: "Future research should consider the potential for depressive symptoms acting as a moderator in the relation between the time spent under a shelter-in-place mandate (lockdown) and binge drinking. Additional research is needed to develop the best treatment for people with substance use disorders who may be more susceptible to adverse health outcomes."

Overall, nearly a third (32 per cent) of participants reported binge drinking during the pandemic with binge drinkers increasing their intake. However, non-binge drinkers consumed about the same amount of alcohol as before lockdown.

In addition, the majority (70 per cent) of participants were relatively high earners, a factor already associated with hazardous alcohol use.

Published on December 07, 2020

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