Home Research paper Stressed and locked up during pandemic, New Yorkers crave alcohol, YSPH study finds

Stressed and locked up during pandemic, New Yorkers crave alcohol, YSPH study finds


As New York State’s lockdown orders continued through the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents increasingly felt cravings for alcohol – and subsequently reported abusing it , a new study from scientists at the Yale School of Public Health and Stony Brook University has revealed.

The study analyzed data from a survey of nearly 600 young adults living in the state in 2020. Scientists have found a staggering association between anxiety, sleep disturbances, and even positive diagnoses of COVID- 19 with increased alcohol consumption.

It is believed to be the first study that analyzed cravings for alcohol consumption during the pandemic. The research is published in the journal Quarterly alcoholism treatment.

To explain the increase, the researchers pointed to the long-term psychological stress that the pandemic has placed on populations since the appearance of the virus. Previous studies have shown that many young adults consume alcohol to cope with anxiety and stress, and those who were interviewed also showed a similar pattern. Additionally, they found that many New York residents surveyed who reported sleeping problems also reported higher alcohol consumption.

More surprisingly, the researchers also found that the diagnosis of COVID-19 was directly associated with increased alcohol consumption – despite federal warnings against alcohol consumption if infected with the virus. Perhaps, they wrote, the stress of the diagnosis led many people to crave alcohol and drink more as a result. Stress also affected the general population, they found: Among those who reported that their alcohol consumption had increased, almost half of the respondents reported moderate to severe depression and even suicidal ideation.

“It is not surprising to most people that alcohol consumption increased during the pandemic, especially in New York City liquor stores were considered essential businesses and were allowed to remain open during home orders, ”said Ijeoma Opara, Ph.D., LMSW, MPH, assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “Without proper access to brief mental health and substance use resources that can help young adults during a pandemic, people may seek out substance use as a way to cope with the stress of the pandemic. “

The study also found an interesting trade-off inherent in blockages used to control pandemics: While the measures have been shown to be effective in minimizing the spread of a virus, they can also lead to isolation and loneliness, which can lead to increased alcohol consumption. and abuse. Assessing these side effects may prove useful for future research, the researchers wrote, particularly in view of a future pandemic.

The findings suggest that policymakers, clinicians and public health experts should take important steps to help curb pandemic-induced drug addiction and improve health outcomes, they wrote.

There are limits to their study, the researchers added. Since the team only interviewed young adults in New York State, the results may not be reproducible across the entire United States population – meaning they may not say the pandemic has caused an increase in cravings for alcohol. Yet, the researchers wrote, their study should hopefully lead to more research into the impacts of the pandemic on mental health across the country, and particularly with regard to those who have tested positive for the disease. .