© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Have you been drinking more or less during the pandemic?

Brown alcohol being poured into four shot glasses.

For people who drink, two years of a pandemic haven't been a good time — and being an essential worker didn't help. That's according to research from the University at Buffalo's Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions.

It's been a time when some people have lost their jobs and others were working from home, possibly not at their request. There have been the issues of kids home in front of a screen, rather than in class. Alcohol also has been relatively easy to get, with takeout allowed during the pandemic and potentially available long term through proposed legislation in Albany.

That's where Ken Leonard comes in. He's the director of the Institute. Leonard said the picture is all over the place because of the variables.

"Very different across different countries and across different states and across different people," he said. "To the extent that those influence drinking, then we have seen in the United States, maybe a quarter of people have increased their drinking and maybe 15% have decreased their drinking."

Leonard said some of those working from home might not think anyone at work would notice an afternoon drink, while an essential worker facing daily stress probably can't until after work.

"Impact of COVID on people's stress levels was, to some extent, highly individualized, depending on what their resources were in order to deal with the specific issues that were impinging on them," Leonard said.

He said evidence suggests some people who were at risk for deeper drinking succumbed, while most of those who weren't at risk didn't.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.