Abstract: Binge Drinking Among U.S. Young Women during COVID-19 Pandemic (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

316P Binge Drinking Among U.S. Young Women during COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Sunah Hyun, PhD, Research Associate, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA
Chloe McElligott, BA, Research Assistant, Boston University School of Social Work
Kirsten Fleming, BS, Research Assistant, Boston University School of Social Work
Kana Garcia, BS, Research Assistant, Boston University, Boston, MA
Hyeouk Chris Hahm, Professor, Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA
Cindy Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Background and Purpose: Binge drinking is a serious public health concern in the United States, and can lead to many unintended consequences including increased risk of violence towards self and others, unintentional injuries, transmission of STDs, and more. The pandemic has caused sharp increases in alcohol purchases and binge drinking in the US. However, predictors of binge drinking among young women are not well known. This study aims to examine the associations between psychological distress and binge drinking sequelae among young adult women.

Methods: This study used Wave 1 and Wave 2 data from the CARES (COVID-19 Adult Resilience Experiences Study) 2020 Project (https://www.cares2020.com/), a longitudinal study following young adults during COVID-19. A total of 805 young adults (ages 18-30) participated in both surveys. Wave 1 data was collected from April to August 2020 and Wave 2 data was collected from Sep 2020 to March 2021. A Qualtrics survey inquired participants’ COVID-19-related experiences, risk and resilience, and physical and mental health conditions. Binge drinking was measured using, “How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking?”. Three or more drinks per day was considered binge drinking. Psychological distress was measured using: 1) financial stress (at both T1 and T2), 2) COVID-19-related worry at T1, and 3) COVID-19-related grief at T1 were included.

Data analytic plan: A series of logistic regression analyses were performed to identify risk factors for young women’s binge drinking during the pandemic. First, the unadjusted model was run with four risk factors. Second, the adjusted model was run after controlling for covariates (age, race, student status, pre-existing mental health diagnosis, depression and anxiety symptoms at T1).

: Of all participants, 22.5% of women reported binge drinking. Young women who binge drink, on average, reported higher levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, financial stress at T2, and COVID-19-related grief than those who did not. After controlling for covariates, young women who reported high levels of financial stress at T2 and COVID-19-grief were more likely to binge drink (OR = 1.22, p = 0.01, OR = 1.07, p = 0.5, respectively). Those with low levels of COVID-19-worry were more likely to binge drink (OR = 0.90, p < 0.001).

Conclusions and Implications: This study validated the association between COVID-19 related psychological distress and binge drinking among young adult women in the U.S. Specifically, COVID-19 related grief (T1) and financial stress (T2) were associated with increased binge drinking in T2. It is possible women with higher levels of COVID-19 worry (having enough groceries during city lockdown”, “obtaining a COVID-19 test if I become sick”, “getting treated for COVID-19 if I contract it”) became more vigilant in surviving COVID-19. Further research is necessary to determine the long-term impacts of the pandemic on binge drinking among young women and must include a more comprehensive assessment of psychological distress. This allows for a more nuanced understanding of coping-motivated drinking behaviors and the designs of future interventions.