Pandemic-fatigued Americans are drinking about 14% more alcohol this year than they did in 2019, an alarming increase that’s even more pronounced among women, researchers said Tuesday.
The new study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found a 17% increase in alcohol consumption among women and 19% among people ages 30 to 59. They also found that heavy drinking among women — four or more drinks within two hours — went up by 41%.
The study was conducted with a sample of 1,540 people ages 30 to 80. The reported surge for most participants in the group translates into one additional drinking day per month.
The trend should not come as a surprise. A report by market research firm Nielsen found that sales of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. rose 55% in the week ending March 21, when COVID-19 was just starting to spread across the country.
“We’ve had anecdotal information about people buying and consuming more alcohol, but this is some of the first survey-based information that shows how much alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic,” Michael Pollard, lead author of the JAMA study, told Forbes.
Pollard, a sociologist with the RAND Corp. in California, warned that drowning one’s sorrows can lead to a series of health problems.
“In addition to a range of negative physical health associations, excessive alcohol use may lead to or worsen existing mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, which may themselves be increasing during COVID-19,” he wrote in the study.
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