Have you been drinking more or less during the pandemic?
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.