Many national news stories about spiking liquor sales have suggested that Americans are drinking more alcohol now than before the coronavirus pandemic began. But a recent RAND Corporation survey backs up those reports with some sobering statistics.
The survey included 1,540 members of the RAND American Life Panel, a nationally representative group of adults who are regularly interviewed online. They were asked about their alcohol consumption during the spring of 2019 and again a year later in the spring of 2020, during the early months of pandemic-related shutdowns.
Women in particular seem to have been triggered by pandemic-related stress to drink more, and more often. Female survey participants reported increasing their heavy drinking behavior – defined as having four or more drinks within a couple of hours – by just over 40%.
Overall, the survey found that frequency of alcohol consumption increased by 17% among women, and by 14% among adults over age 30. The total increase was 19% among all adults aged 30 to 59, and 10% among non-Hispanic white adults.
“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,” said Michael Pollard, a RAND sociologist. “Alcohol consumption can have significant negative health consequences, so this information suggests another way that the pandemic may be affecting the physical and mental health of Americans.”