A new survey has found that 17% of Americans have been “drinking heavily” amid the pandemic, joining a chorus of other studies that have raised alarm bells about the toll Covid-19 has taken on mental health and addiction issues.
Nearly one in five respondents age 21 and over to the online survey of 1,003 adults, which was conducted by the Harris Poll for the pharmaceutical company Alkermes between March and April, reported “heavy drinking” in the last 30 days—defined as two nights a week in which women have at least four alcoholic beverages and men have at least five.
Out of that group, 30% said they continued to drink even though it worsened their mental or physical health, 24% said they continued to drink after blacking out, 22% experienced withdrawal symptoms when they stopped and 23% gave up on activities that were important to them in order to drink.
However, 87% of respondents were not in treatment for their drinking, and 37% of that group did not believe they had a problem.
A number of other studies have suggested that Americans have increased their alcohol use during the Covid-19 pandemic. In October 2020, a Rand Corp. study found that women participated in heavy drinking 41% more than before. Another study found that liquor store sales increased from March to September of last year by 20% compared to 2019, Columbia Health reported. Another study found that sales spiked 34% between April and June 2020 compared to that same period last year.