UA study shows harmful drinking habits dramatically increase under COVID-19 lockdowns

UA study shows harmful drinking habits dramatically increase under COVID-19 lockdowns
New research from the University of Arizona shows under lockdowns during the pandemic, harmful alcohol use increased dramatically. (Source: CNN)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -New research from the University of Arizona shows under lockdowns during the pandemic, harmful alcohol use increased dramatically.

”A lot of our usual outlets have changed,” said William “Scott” Killgore, UA psychiatry professor and director of the Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience lab. “Now, we’re stuck at home and people are trying to find ways to cope, and as they do that, they are starting to turn to alcohol.”

Killgore led a study that shows more Americans are drinking alarming amounts of alcohol during COVID-19 lockdowns. They surveyed people from around the nation during the first six months of the pandemic

“The number of people scoring in the ‘harmful alcohol’ range increased by about 200 percent,” said Killgore.

The study shows people who had probable alcohol dependency increased by 300 percent and severe alcohol dependence increased by 400 percent. Interestingly, for those not under lockdown restrictions, alcohol consumption habits were essentially unchanged.

These increases are concerning for researchers because an increase in dangerous alcohol consumption can lead to health issues, domestic violence, neglect and drinking while working from home—decreasing productivity. But while substance and abusive alcohol behaviors may be increasing, Dr. Eddie Ornelas, senior vice president of clinical services at CODAC, said those seeking out help has not.

“We were really anticipating a flood of individuals if you will, and that’s really not come to be the case, and yet we’re still kind of waiting for that,” said Ornelas.

“People are staying at home, they’re drinking at home, so it doesn’t seem like a problem (to them),” said Killgore.

There are likely a variety of reasons why, but Ornelas said organizations like his are ready to help whom ever, whenever. He said it is always a good time to seek assistance.

“Any kind of concern someone has, it’s time to reach out,” he said.

If you or a loved one need help with alcohol or substance abuse, please call National Substance Use and Disorder Issues Referral and Treatment Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). For more assistance during these challenging times, refer to this list, or some of the lines below:

COVID-19 Crisis Counseling

  • Call 2-1-1 for free COVID-19 crisis counseling. www.ResilientArizona.org
  • Llame al 2-1-1 para conectarse con un proveedor de consejería.

National 24-Hour Crisis Hotlines

Phone

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Substance Use and Disorder Issues Referral and Treatment Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Text

  • Text the word “HOME” to 741741

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