Impacts of changes in alcohol consumption patterns during the first 2020 COVID-19 restrictions for people with and without mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions: A cross sectional study in 13 countries

Emma L. Davies*, Cheneal Puljevic, Gail Gilchrist, Laura Potts, Ahnjili Zhuparris, Larissa J. Maier, Monica J. Barratt, Adam R. Winstock, Jason A. Ferris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The initial period of COVID-19-related restrictions affected substance use in some population groups. We explored how changes in alcohol use at the beginning of the pandemic impacted the health and wellbeing of people with and without mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions (MHDCs). Methods: Data came from the Global Drug Survey Special Edition on COVID-19 conducted in May-June 2020. Measured were; changes in drinking compared to February 2020 (pre-COVID-19 restrictions), reasons for changes, and impact on physical health, mental health, relationships, finances, work/study, and enjoyment. This study included 38,141 respondents (median age = 32 IQR 25-45; 51.9% cis man; 47.8% cis woman; 1.2% trans/non-binary; 30.2% with MHDCs e.g. depression 20.0%, anxiety 16.3%, ADHD 3.8%, PTSD 3.3%). Results: A third (35.3%) of respondents with MHDCs and 17.8% without MHDCs indicated that increased drinking affected their mental health negatively (p<.001); 44.2% of respondents with MHDCS compared to 32.6% without MHDCs said it affected their physical health negatively (p<.001). Reduced drinking was associated with better mental health among a fifth (21.1%) of respondents with MHDCS and 14.4% without MHDCs (p<.001). Age, relationship status, living arrangements, employment, coping and distress were significant predictors of increases in drinking. Conclusion: Among people with MHDCS, reduced alcohol consumption was associated with better mental health, while the negative effects of increased drinking were more pronounced when compared to people without MHDCS. When supporting people in reducing alcohol consumption during uncertain times, people with MHDCS may need additional support, alongside those experiencing greater levels of distress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103563
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume101
Early online date8 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Alcohol consumption
  • COVID-19
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Global drug survey
  • Mental health

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