Heavy alcohol consumption increases risk of COVID-19 in young women

Summary: Women in their 20s who habitually drink alcohol had the highest self-reported prevalence of COVID-19 infection among subgroups in a study of alcohol and drug use during the pandemic. The researchers say the increased risk of infection was due to drinkers being less vigilant about their social behaviors as a result of intoxication.

Source: Rutgers University

According to Rutgers researchers, who said clinicians need to develop pandemic-related prevention methods to address substance use problems, women in their 20s who reported heavy drinking during the pandemic COVID-19 were more likely to become infected with COVID-19.

The study, published in Drug and alcohol addictionfound that young black and white women ages 25 to 28 who reported heavy drinking (four or more drinks in one sitting) had the highest self-reported prevalence of COVID-19 infection among the subgroups studied.

“Our research shows that when young women binge drink, they also increase their risk of contracting COVID-19. This may be due to several factors associated with binge drinking, such as being less vigilant about of using preventative behaviors like social distancing when intoxicated,” said Tammy Chung, professor of psychiatry and director of the Rutgers Institute’s Center for Population Behavioral Health. for Health Research, Health Care Policy and Aging and a corresponding author of the study.

The researchers looked at whether people’s alcohol and substance use changed from before the COVID-19 pandemic to during the pandemic in a sample of young black and white women. They examined how characteristics such as socioeconomic status and COVID-19 infection status were associated with certain patterns of substance and alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study focused on young women, an understudied group whose rates of substance use are catching up with or equaling those of men for most substances, because young women experience disproportionate financial strain on due to job loss and increased caregiving responsibilities.

“Identifying these characteristic profiles can inform a tailored intervention to address disparities associated with the risk of infection by COVID-19 and their intersection with specific patterns of substance use among young women to guide a more personalized public health response” , Chung said.

The study looked at seven subgroups of young women who showed similar patterns of substance use before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Groups included those with low substance use, cannabis use, heavy alcohol use, cigarettes or e-cigarettes combined with heavy alcohol use, and other patterns.

The researchers also examined characteristics that were associated with these substance use patterns, such as socioeconomic status, COVID-19 infection status, and the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health and financial situations.

Women in their 20s who reported heavy drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic were more likely to become infected with COVID-19. The image is in the public domain

Each subgroup correlated with a different response to the impacts of COVID-19. Using subgroup profiles, researchers could better understand how personal characteristics are associated with substance abuse patterns. The researchers also found that people who reported using more than one drug were more likely to report pandemic-related psychological health and job or income loss.

“Women who report multiple substance use warrant intervention not only for substance use, but would also benefit from mental health services and support for job or income loss,” Chung said. .

Future research could look at subgroups of men, women who do not identify as white or black, and other age groups.

Study co-authors include Carolyn Sartor, Ashley Grosso and Yanping Jiang of the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Policy and Aging Research; and Alison Hipwell of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

About this news about binge drinking and research on COVID-19

Author: Andrew Smith
Source: Rutgers University
Contact: Andrew Smith – Rutgers University
Image: The image is in the public domain

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Original Research: Closed access
“Person-Centered Substance Use Patterns During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Their Associations with COVID-19-Related Impacts on the Health and Personal Finances of Black and White Young Women” by Tammy Chung et in the. Drug and alcohol addiction


Person-Centered Substance Use Patterns During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Their Associations with COVID-19-Related Impacts on Health and Personal Finances in Young Black and White Women


Population-level statistics on pandemic-related changes in substance use may obscure patterns of use (eg, polysubstance use) within individuals. This longitudinal study used a person-centered approach to identify subgroups with respect to substance use patterns before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to examine profile correlates (eg, sociodemographic characteristics) , which can inform a tailored intervention.


The two youngest age cohorts of the Pittsburgh Girls Study (n = 938; 59.1% Black, 40.9% White; mean age = 26.2 (SD = 0.8)), a longitudinal community sample , provided data on past-year frequency of cigarette/e-cigarette use, binge drinking (>4 drinks per occasion), and cannabis use before and during the pandemic, and perceived change in use. Latent profile analysis identified subgroups. Correlates of the profile (eg, sociodemographics, COVID-19 infection status and reported exposure, impacts of COVID-19 on psychological health and finances) were examined.


Seven profiles were identified: “Low consumption”, “Occasional binge drinking”, “Cannabis use”, “Cigarette/e-cigarette and excessive drinking”, “Occasional binge drinking and cannabis”, “Excessive drinking and cannabis” and “Polysubstance”. use”. Black women were overrepresented in “Low Use,” which was associated with fewer pandemic health effects. Profiles associated with more frequent alcohol consumption were more likely to report infection with COVID-19, while “cannabis use” had a lower prevalence of infection. “Poly substance use” had more COVID-related depression and income loss, on average, than “low use.”


Distinct subgroups representing single-substance use, co-use, and polysubstance use were identified before and during the pandemic. The profiles show a differential response to the impacts of COVID-19, ranging from relative resistance to specific needs to guide personalized treatment.

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