The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly stressful for parents as they juggle working from home and caring for their children. New research offers insight into how some mothers are using alcohol to cope with the pandemic. The results were published in the journal
Researchers recruited 266 mothers in central Ohio to study parenting in April-May 2020, when Ohio was under a pandemic stay-at-home order. The participants, who all had children between the ages of 2 and 12, were recruited through social media and word of mouth, so selection was not random.
Some Mothers have turned to alcohol to cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic
The majority of the sample consisted of white, well-educated, and married women. Mothers participated in three waves of the study: the first in the spring of 2020 and again around the same time in 2021 and 2022.
Overall, 77.8% of mothers reported alcohol use in all three waves of the study. This study does not include data from before COVID-19, but previous work has shown an increase in alcohol use among women after the start of the pandemic.
Additionally, other studies show that drinking among women has been increasing over the past two decades, particularly among white women and highly educated people.
The results of this new study showed that among women who drank alcohol, participants had drunk on average 9.2 of the previous 28 days at the start of their stay-at-home orders in 2022. Drinking frequency dropped to 6.95 days in 2021 and remained roughly the same in 2022.
Total drinking volume also decreased from 2020 to the last two years of the study. However, the average number of drinks per day increased from 1.47 in 2020 to 1.65 in 2021 and remained stable at 1.61 in 2022.
The study cannot say why changes in alcohol use occurred throughout the pandemic. But the results are worrisome, especially given the increased drinking trends among women before the pandemic began.
Alcohol use is already on the rise, and then this pandemic has added forced incarceration and social isolation to the already difficult job of parenting.
So it’s no surprise that some mothers use alcohol to cope, but it’s known that heavy drinking can have a particularly bad effect on parenting. The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.