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Binge drinking increases as the blockade becomes longer

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Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance from Medscape Coronavirus Resource Center..

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Welcome Impact factor, Your weekly commentary on new medical research. Dr. F. Perry Wilson, Yale University School of Medicine.

Most of us, whether you are an essential worker or not, have spent more time at home than we have ever done. And face it: there’s not much to do there.I made sourdough bread and watched Binge Queen’s Gambit.. But anecdotally, Americans have done much more since they got stuck at home: drinking.

And new Study from American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse This suggests that it is more than just an anecdote. The pandemic has increased our alcohol consumption, especially among us who drink more anyway.

Currently, there are many caveats to this research study, which recruited participants via social media. The response rate was less than 6%, but at least it’s good to give some numbers to the question and identify some directions for future research.

Okay — 1928 self-selected participants from across the United States completed an online survey early in the pandemic. It asked many questions about the history of psychiatry, pandemic behavior (like the time spent on blockades), and drinking habits.

Overall, this was a wealthy group. 75% of household income exceeds $ 80,000 annually, and 88% said their work was unaffected by a pandemic. On average, respondents were evacuated there for about four weeks.

Thirty-two percent of respondents said they increased their alcohol intake during the pandemic, but only 10% reported reduced consumption. It can be understood. But there may be a bigger problem under the surface. 34% of the people surveyed were classified as heavy drinkers. That is, a man who sits and drinks 5 or more, or a woman who drinks 4 or more. The increase in alcohol consumption by heavy drinkers was significantly higher than that of non-heavy drinkers. Compared to about 30% of non-heavy drinkers, 60% of heavy drinkers reported a further increase in alcohol intake.


I would like to point out that this is a bit strange from an epidemiological point of view. Hierarchizing a population with a continuous variable usually causes high-end people to go down and low-end people to go up. This is known as regression to the mean. For example, if you divide a group into groups of hypertension and hypotension and measure blood pressure over time, the high group tends to decrease slightly and the low group tends to increase slightly. .. This is expected.


When it comes to drinking, the opposite signal can be seen here. Those who have already drank a lot have drank more, suggesting that this is a particularly powerful finding. The fact that the population surveyed is a fairly wealthy group further suggests that the problem may be even greater than that measured here.

There was only one statistically related factor in increased drinking among historic drinkers: depression.. The authors investigated the impact of time spent under the curfew and did not find an independent link to increased consumption.Nevertheless, I think we need to consider that it has increased Alcohol abuse It is the potential harm of social isolation that COVID-19 has forced us. No, the solution here is not to pretend that COVID-19 does not exist.

By identifying the potential harms of social isolation, as these authors began, we can begin to create ways to mitigate them. Everything we can do to make it easier to stay at home, whether it’s drug or alcohol treatment, psychotherapy, or increased access to the creation of virtual social groups, pandemics It has the side effect of getting it done faster.

F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Clinical and Translational Research Accelerators at Yale University. His science communication work can be found at the Huffington Post, NPR, and here in Medscape.He tweets @fperrywilson Host a repository of his communication work at www.methodsman.com..

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