Changes in alcohol use as a function of psychological distress and social support following COVID-19 related University closings11/2020
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, universities across the country abruptly closed campuses and transitioned to remote learning. The effects of these unprecedented closures are unknown. The current study examined reported alcohol consumption during the week prior to and after campus closure at a public university in Northeast Ohio. Analysis of data from 1,958 students, who endorsed using alcohol in the past 30 days, demonstrates that alcohol consumption (amount and frequency) increased as time progressed. Those with more symptoms of depression and anxiety reported greater increases in alcohol consumption (assessed via retrospective timeline follow-back) compared to students with fewer symptoms. Furthermore, students with greater perceived social support reported less alcohol consumption. Together, these findings highlight the need for universities to offer services and programs to students that will minimize risk factors and maximize protective factors in order to reduce or prevent alcohol abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.