Changes in Alcohol Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from Wisconsin

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Mar 29;20(7):5301. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20075301.


Alcohol consumption often increases in times of stress such as disease outbreaks. Wisconsin has historically ranked as one of the heaviest drinking states in the United States with a persistent drinking culture. Few studies have documented the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol consumption after the first few months of the pandemic. The primary aim of this study is to identify factors related to changes in drinking at three timepoints during the first eighteen months of the pandemic. Survey data was collected from May to June 2020 (Wave 1), from January to February 2021 (Wave 2), and in June 2021 (Wave 3) among past participants of the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin. Study participants included 1290, 1868, and 1827 participants in each survey wave, respectively. Participants were asked how their alcohol consumption changed in each wave. Being younger, having anxiety, a bachelor's degree or higher, having higher income, working remotely, and children in the home were significantly associated with increased drinking in all waves. Using logistic regression modeling, younger age was the most important predictor of increased alcohol consumption in each wave. Young adults in Wisconsin may be at higher risk for heavy drinking as these participants were more likely to increase alcohol use in all three surveys.

Keywords: COVID-19; alcohol consumption; statewide sample.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • United States
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

Funding for the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) was provided by the Wisconsin Partnership Program PERC Award (#AAL2297).