32. Impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic on Adolescent Alcohol Use


      The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in a global shut-down that led to unprecedented disruptions to everyday life. Exposure to pandemic-related events such as job loss, school closures, social isolation, and illness have been linked to increases in mental and physical health problems, but little is known about the implications of these consequences on adolescent alcohol use. This study assessed the cross-sectional associations between the COVID-19 pandemic (exposure, impact, and distress) and alcohol use and binge drinking in two cohorts of adolescents and young adults (AYA) recruited from an urban adolescent hospital.


      AYA receiving care for a chronic medical condition and those presenting for routine care were included. Self-reported questionnaires were administered through online survey. COVID-19 pandemic exposure, impact, and distress were assessed using the COVID-19 Exposure and Family Impact Scale (CEFIS); alcohol use was assessed using the validated Screening to Brief Intervention (S2BI) tool; binge drinking was defined by the number of drinks consumed on one occasion, based on age and biological sex. CEFIS exposure scales (range: 0-32) is the sum of COVID-19 related events including direct COVID-19 experiences in family members. CEFIS impact scale (range:1-4) derived from the mean of impact scales for personal emotional and physical wellbeing and family interaction. Logistic regressions were used to assess the associations between the COVID-19 pandemic (exposure, impact, and distress) and past 12-month alcohol use and past 3-month binge drinking, adjusting for age, cohort, biological sex, and parental education.


      Among N=461 participants, 69% were female, 62% were white, 82% were non-Hispanic, and mean age was 19.3(± 1.6). The mean score for CEFIS exposure was 9.2 (± 3.9), CEFIS impact score was 2.9 (± 0.6), and CEFIS distress score was 5.9 (± 2.3). 38% reported someone in their family members was exposed to COVID-19, and 25% reported some family members experienced the symptoms. 18% and 27%, screened positive for depression and anxiety . 60% of participants reported using alcohol in the past 12 months, and 47% of participants with past 3-month alcohol use reported binge drinking in the past 3 months. In adjusted models, AYA with higher personal or familial pandemic impacts were more likely to report past 12-month alcohol use (AOR:1.83; 95% CI, 1.27-2.65), and adolescents who reported worse levels of distress were more likely to report 12-month alcohol use (AOR:1.12; 95% CI, 1.02 -1.23). Among past 3-month alcohol users, exposure to a greater number of COVID-19 related events was associated with an increased odds of reporting past 3-month binge drinking (AOR: 1.11; 95% CI, 1.04 -1.20).


      COVID-19 associated exposure, impact, and distress levels were associated with an increase in alcohol use behaviors. Adolescence is a period of intense vulnerability to the surrounding environment. The results highlight the behavioral risks associated with exposure to the disruptive and possibly traumatic events of the COVID-19 pandemic for AYA and need for support and assessment of ongoing problems in the future.

      Sources of Support

      Hilton Grant.