Research & Resources

COVID-19 Pandemic Stressors and Substance Use Among College Students

To determine stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the link to substance use among college students, researchers analyzed data from the fall 2020 Healthy Minds Study. Online surveys from a non-probability sample of students attending 1 of 28 universities who completed an online survey sometime from September–December 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic were examined to determine the associations between COVID-19 stressors (i.e., concern, racial/ethnic discrimination, financial distress, infection, illness of loved one, death of loved one, caregiving) and substance use (i.e., alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use). About 46.89 percent of the sample reported drinking alcohol in the past 2 weeks, 7.38 percent reported ever using cigarettes, and 16.87 percent reported using marijuana in the past month. COVID-19 infection and caregiving were significantly associated with alcohol use. Racial/ethnic discrimination and financial distress were associated with smoking cigarettes. COVID-19 concerns and infection were associated with marijuana use.

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