Changes in alcohol consumption among college students due to COVID-19: Effects of campus closure and residential change


Objective: It is well established that college students increase their drinking when they leave home. This study examined changes in drinking as a result of campus closure due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), focusing on the influence of living situation. Method:A sample of312 college students (mean age = 21.2 years; 62% female; 67% White) responded to an online survey regarding their drink- ing behavior before and after university closures because ofCOVID-19. Those participants who lived with peers pre-closure and moved home to live with parents post-closure were compared with those who remained living with peers or remained living with parents in terms of changes in frequency and quantity of drinking. Results: A comparison of pre- to post-closure drinking indicated significant decreases in the typical num- ber of drinks per week (from 11.5 to 9.9) and maximum drinks per day (from 4.9 to 3.3) and a slight increase in typical drinking days per week (from 3 to 3.2). Patterns of change significantly varied across groups. Those who moved from peers to parents showed significantly greater reductions in drinking days (from 3.1 to 2.7), number of drinks per week (from 13.9 to 8.5), and maximum drinks in one day (from 5.4 to 2.9) than those who remained living with peers or with parents. In contrast, the latter two groups significantly increased their frequency (from 3.0 to 3.7 days and 2.0 to 3.3 days, respectively). Conclusions: Participants reduced their quantity of drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Re- turning to live with parents during emerging adulthood may be protective for heavy drinking.

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs