Study warns many people are drinking too much alcohol in lockdown

Lockdowns and quarantines have led to excessive drinking, a new study warns, putting these individuals at risk of health issues and developing alcohol use disorders. Heavy drinking was more common in people who already had a tendency to binge drink, as well as people suffering from depression, according to the researchers, with the amount consumed increasing during stay-home orders.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has led to a massive change in lifestyle — one that arrived without warning, sending many people into chaos as they learned to cope with working from home, teaching their kids at home, and staying safe. As well, many people are facing financial insecurity, driving stress and increasing depression.

These factors are also driving some people to drink more, according to a new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The increase was observed among people who already self-reported binge-drinking habits, which is classified as four or more drinks in two hours for women and five or more in two hours for men.

Using self-reported data, the study found that 32-percent of binge-drinking participants said they were binge drinking during stay-home orders, and 60-percent said they had started drinking more alcohol during the lockdown than before. In comparison, 28-percent of non-binge drinkers reported drinking more during the lockdown.

The study likewise found that people who currently or previously had a depression diagnosis were more like to increase drinking amid the pandemic, with the odds of harmful alcohol consumption increasing with the more time spent in lockdown at home. As well, participants who had kids at home were 26-percent less likely to binge drink during stay-home orders compared to those in childless homes.

The researchers note that the findings indicate that the pandemic may have lasting effects on public health even among those who do not contract COVID-19. Health problems stemming from excessive alcohol consumption can include increased risk of cancer, liver disease, heart disease, and more.