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Opening More Bottles Than Usual? You're Not Alone

Study finds Americans 30 and older are drinking booze 14% more during pandemic than last year
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2020 9:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you've been throwing back more vino than you used to, join the stuck-at-home crowd. A new study conducted by the Rand Corporation has found that Americans are drinking alcohol 14% more often during the pandemic than they used to, with NPR citing everything from Zoom happy hours to simply wanting to ease stress as reasons driving people's increased imbibing. The numbers were even higher for women, according to the research published in the JAMA Network Open journal, which found that frequency of drinking for the ladies rose 17%, compared with last year. Meanwhile, heavy drinking among women—described as four or more alcoholic beverages within a couple of hours—jumped 41%. The study, which surveyed 1,540 adults ages 30 to 80, asked questions about their drinking habits during the pandemic compared with what they were in spring 2019.

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In addition to asking respondents about the average number of drinks they'd consumed over a month's time, for both 2019 and 2020, as well as the number of days spent drinking, including binge drinking, the survey queried them on "adverse consequences" of their drinking (e.g., if they'd taken "foolish risks" during their boozefests). Women saw a nearly 40% spike in those adverse consequences as well. The Washington Post notes that although the study didn't delve into the causes of the rise in drinking, health experts have pointed previously to anxiety, depression, isolation, and boredom during the pandemic as possible drivers. Two limitations to this study: It didn't survey those under 30, so there's no gauge for the drinking habits of young adults, and it relied on self-reporting, meaning results could be skewed. (Read more pandemic stories.)

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