Background: We aimed to estimate the population prevalence of people with changes in their usual patterns of alcohol use during the early stages of the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020 (COVID-19) pandemic in Australia; assess the association between mental health status and changes in alcohol use during the pandemic; and examine if the associations were modified by gender and age. Methods: This study was an anonymously-completed online self-report survey. Changes in alcohol use were assessed using a single fixed-choice study-specific question. Mental health was assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale. Results: A total of 13,829 people contributed complete data and were included in the analysis. Overall, about one in five adults reported that they had been drinking more alcohol since the COVID-19 pandemic began than they used to. People were more likely to be drinking alcohol more than they used to if they had more severe symptoms of depression or anxiety. The associations between depressive and anxiety symptoms and increased alcohol use since the COVID-19 pandemic began were consistent between females and males. Limitations: Online surveys are less accessible to some groups of people. The data are self-report and not diagnostic. Cross-sectional data can identify associations, not causal relationships. The study was limited to participants from Australia. Conclusions: These data indicate that there is a need for public policies focused on alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic and the strategies should include specific consideration of the needs of people with mental health problems.
- Alcohol use