Newswise – Ongoing analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol and related findings shows COVID-related stressors experienced by study participants – including work-related stressors , finances and family – have varying impact on individuals with and without alcohol use disorders (AUD). These results will be shared during the 44e Annual Scientific Meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), to be held virtually this year from 19e – 23e June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The diverse and pervasive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to manifest globally on individuals, communities, health systems and the economy,” said Vijay Ramchandani, Principal Investigator and Chief of human psychopharmacology laboratory of the clinic and intramural clinic division. Biological research at NIAAA. “Stress, social isolation, economic loss and uncertainty can dramatically affect mental health and alcohol use; therefore, it is essential to assess the effect of the pandemic on alcohol consumption and associated behaviors and outcomes. Ramchandani will discuss these results at the RSA virtual meeting on June 20, 2021.
Ramchandani, along with co-principal investigator Nancy Diazgranados and colleagues, invited around 1,200 adults who had previously participated in a natural history study of the NIAAA – non-drinkers as well as heavy drinkers with a diagnosis of AUD. who had received hospital treatment – to participate in the current study. Participants complete electronic surveys at intervals ranging from one week to every six months for two years. The survey included the alcohol use disorder identification test, as well as questionnaires assessing alcohol sensitivity / tolerance, control disorders and craving, as well as perceived stress, negative life events, social isolation, resilience, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and quality of life. In addition, a COVID-19 impact scale assessed the impact of the pandemic on employment, finances, family and living conditions as well as health symptoms and behaviors such as media use. social.
“Our study is ongoing and the full picture of the impact of the pandemic on alcohol and related outcomes will take some time to be fully understood,” Ramchandani said. “At this point, we have data from about 440 people which seems to suggest that there was enormous variability in patterns of alcohol use in the first six to eight months of the pandemic, and in the change in alcohol consumption compared to pre-pandemic levels. . Overall, about a quarter of the sample showed increases, a quarter of decreases, and about half of the sample showed no change in alcohol consumption during this six to eight period. month.
While the patient groups showed, on average, little or no change in alcohol consumption, it was the non-patient groups who showed changes in consumption inversely proportional to their alcohol consumption before the pandemic. Ramchandani added. “In other words, those who drank more before the pandemic appeared to show decreased consumption, while those who drank less before the pandemic showed, worryingly, a pattern of escalation in consumption.” This escalation appeared to be linked to stressors linked to COVID.
“Another important aspect of this study is to look at racial disparities in the impact of the pandemic,” Ramchandani said. “Different racial / ethnic groups have been and continue to be affected differently by the pandemic; in fact, vulnerable groups who experienced the highest level of stress exposure from the pandemic may be at the highest risk for increased alcohol use and problems after the pandemic. “