Research & Resources

Changes in College Student Drinking During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Two studies were conducted to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on drinking behavior, drinking context, and reasons for both increases and decreases in consumption among college students. In both studies, COVID-19-related increases in drinking frequency were accompanied by decreases in quantity, heavy drinking, and drunkenness. Both studies also provided evidence of reductions in social drinking with friends and roommates and at parties and increased drinking with family. Participants confirmed that their drinking decreased due to reduced social opportunities and/or settings, limited access to alcohol, and reasons related to health and self-discipline. Increases were attributed to greater opportunity (more time) and boredom and to a lesser extent, lower perceived risk of harm, and to cope with distress.

This paper, “Changes in Alcohol Use and Drinking Context due to the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Multimethod Study of College Student Drinkers,” was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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