New York, Sep 30 : Adults have sharply increased their consumption of alcohol during the shutdown triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, with women increasing their heavy drinking episodes by 41 per cent, say researchers.
A national survey in the US, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that the overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by 14 per cent among adults over age 30, compared to the same time last year.
According to the study, the increase was 19 per cent among all adults aged 30 to 59, 17 per cent among women and 10 percent among non-Hispanic White adults.
"We've had anecdotal information about people buying and consuming more alcohol, but this is some of the first survey-based information that shows how much alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic," said study lead author Michael Pollard from RAND Corporation -- a non-profit research organisation.
"Alcohol consumption can have significant negative health consequences, so this information suggests another way that the pandemic may be affecting the physical and mental health of Americans," Pollard said.
The study is based on a survey of 1,540 adults who are members of the RAND American Life Panel, a nationally representative Internet panel.
Participants were surveyed about their alcohol consumption during the Spring of 2019 and again in Spring 2020 during the early months of the pandemic shutdown.
Researchers say that the alcohol spike highlights the need for primary care providers, behavioural health providers and family members to be aware of the risks of increased alcohol use and heavy drinking during the pandemic.
The findings also suggest that future research should examine whether the increase in alcohol use persists as the pandemic continues, and whether psychological and physical well-being are subsequently affected.