Trends in US Alcohol Consumption Frequency During the First Wave of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic
Background: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic created disruptions and stressors which may have influenced alcohol consumption frequency trends. Varying COVID-19 health burden and alcohol policies may have contributed to different consumption trends between states. The aim of this study is to assess trends in alcohol consumption and moderation by state of residence. Methods: We examined trends in adult drinking days, during the first wave of the pandemic (March 10 to June 8) using longitudinal data from the Understanding America Study (N = 6,172 unique participants; N = 28,059 observations). Because state mandates were responsive to disease burden, we modeled the interaction of time by COVID-19 burden, defined as whether the state had the median (or higher) daily incidence of COVID-19 cases on the survey date, and state random effects. We controlled for individual sociodemographics, perceived personal/familial COVID-19 burden, mental health symptomology, and risk avoidance. Results: Drinking days increased throughout the duration (incidence risk ratio [IRR] for drinking per increase in one calendar day = 1.003, 95% CI 1.001, 1.004); trends were heterogeneous by disease burden, with individuals living in states with lower COVID-19 burden increasing (IRR = 1.005, 95% CI 1.003, 1.007) faster than those living in states with higher COVID-19 burden (IRR = 1.000, 95% CI 0.998, 1.002). Trends were heterogeneous between states, but there was no evidence of systematic geographic clustering of state trends. Conclusions: Drinking days increased during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among residents of states with lower disease burden.