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Pandemic Has Cut Into College Kids' Drinking, Study Shows

Robert Preidt
HealthDay News

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- There's been a large drop in drinking among U.S. college students who went home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study finds.

It included more than 300 students who were surveyed about two months after pandemic-related campus closures in the spring.

The students were asked about their drinking habits and living arrangements before and after school shutdowns in the spring of 2020: living with peers before and after closure, living with parents before and after closure, or living with peers before closure but with parents after.

Among students who used alcohol, the number of days they drank per week fell from 3.1 to 2.7 for those who moved from living with peers to parents, but rose from 3 to 3.7 for those who remained living with peers, and from 2 to 3.3 for those who remained living with their parents.

The total number of drinks per week for students who moved home dropped from 13.9 to 8.5, remained about the same (10.6 vs. 11) among those who continued to live with peers, and rose from 6.7 to 9.4 for those who continued living at home.

The maximum number of drinks in a day decreased from 5.4 to 2.9 among students who moved home, from 4.4 to 3.7 for those who remained with peers, and from 3.5 to 3.2 for those who remained at home, according to the study. It was published Dec. 16 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Having more parental supervision may not be the only reason why students who moved home are drinking less, according to the researchers.

"Drinking is a social behavior for college students, and without social interaction students are less likely to drink heavily," said lead researcher Helene White, distinguished professor emeritus at Rutgers University's Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies in Piscataway, N.J.

"Living with parents may especially interfere with social interaction with peers and thereby be protective against heavy drinking," White said in a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more on college drinking.


SOURCE: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, news release, Dec. 16, 2020

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