Why were women drinking more during the COVID-19 pandemic?

By Salma Mahmoud | Medically reviewed by Amanda Zeglis, DO, MBA

| Published November 30, 2022

Retrieved from https://www.mdlinx.com/article/why-were-women-drinking-more-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/1uKoczR8SjSAVJ32tov45W

Key Takeaways

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant spike in alcohol consumption, particularly among women.
  • Alcohol-related deaths rose by about 42% among women between the ages of 35 to 44 from 2019 to 2020, the first full year of the pandemic.
  • Healthcare professionals should be aware of this trend and should discuss the potential health hazards associated with heavy alcohol consumption, especially with female patients.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed how we live our lives. Many people turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism during the trying times of the pandemic—particularly women.

Studies have shown that there is a link between anxiety developed during the pandemic and an increase in alcohol consumption in women, creating a need for clinicians to address this growing problem with women patients.

Reasons for increased alcohol consumption

Women were hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic because they were forced to take on additional responsibilities like working from home while taking care of and teaching home-schooled kids, as well as facing additional emotional stress, according to research published by Newswise.[1]

This research showed that women experienced layoffs at higher rates than men, while many voluntarily left their jobs due to the lack of childcare available during the pandemic lockdown. These circumstances left them with higher rates of anxiety and deteriorating mental health, which led to higher rates of drinking.

Susan Stewart, PhD, a professor of sociology at Iowa State University, told Newswise that, “during the pandemic, there was this proliferation of jokes and memes about mothers drinking to get through the day, and now, people are starting to say, ‘No, why are we doing this? Why aren’t we addressing the root problems of our stress—of not getting support at home, balancing work and family, taking care of relatives?’”

Related: Mental health consequences of pandemic-era drinking

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, and/or funder

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