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In Addictive behaviors ; h5-index 60.0

BACKGROUND : The COVID-19 pandemic has had considerable behavioral health implications globally. One subgroup that may be of particular concern is U.S. veterans, who are susceptible to mental health and substance use concerns. The current study aimed to investigate changes in alcohol use and binge drinking before and during the first year of the pandemic among U.S. veterans, and how pre-pandemic mental health disorders, namely posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and COVID-19-related factors like loneliness, negative reactions to COVID-19, and economic hardship influenced alcohol use trends.

METHODS : 1230 veterans were recruited in February 2020 as part of a larger survey study on veteran health behaviors. Veterans were asked to complete follow-up assessments throughout the pandemic at 6, 9, and 12- months.

RESULTS : Overall, veterans reported a significant decrease in alcohol use (IRR = 0.98) and binge drinking (IRR = 0.11) However, women, racial/ethnic minority veterans, and those with pre-existing PTSD exhibited smaller decreases in alcohol use and binge drinking and overall higher rates of use compared to men, White veterans, and those without PTSD. Both economic hardship and negative reactions to COVID-19 were associated with greater alcohol and binge drinking whereas loneliness showed a negative association with alcohol use and binge drinking.

CONCLUSIONS : Veterans reported decreases in alcohol use and binge drinking throughout the pandemic, with heterogeneity in these outcomes noted for higher risk groups. Special research and clinical attention should be given to the behavioral health care needs of veterans in the post-pandemic period.

Davis Jordan P, Prindle John, Castro Carl C, Saba Shaddy, Fitzke Reagan E, Pedersen Eric R


Active duty, COVID-19, Drug use, Longitudinal, Trauma, Veterans administration