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Alcohol Consumption and Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

AIMS: To examine the association between alcohol consumption and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: An anonymous online survey was distributed among US adults during May-August 2020 through social networks and ResearchMatch. We collected information on demographic, lifestyles and mental health symptoms including anxiety, depression, stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. Logistic regression models were used to examine the cross-sectional association between alcohol consumption and mental health symptoms. We also examined effect modification by race, age, gender, social support, financial insecurity and quarantine status.

RESULTS: The analytical sample consists of 3623 adults. Stable drinking habits and regular drinking behaviors were found to co-exist with better mental health status. Participants who increased their alcohol use had higher odds of developing mental health disorders than those who maintained their pre-pandemic drinking habits. Additionally, participants who engaged in binge drinking during the pandemic had higher odds of depression and stress than those who did not. The associations regarding increased drinking and binge drinking in relation to adverse mental health outcomes were stronger among females, racial minorities, and individuals with financial concerns, poor social support and restricted quarantine status than their counterparts.

CONCLUSIONS: During the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased alcohol use and binge drinking are cross-sectionally associated with higher odds of mental health disorders, which highlighted the need for targeted intervention to address the mental health needs of individuals who have engaged in these behaviors, especially among females, minorities, those with insecurities or with restricted quarantine status.

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