Alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic. Young people in particular often reached for the bottle, often they were alone. A new study shows what effects this can have on later life.

Turn on the telly and open the beer. Pour the right wine with the meal. Turn up the music and dance around the apartment with a cool drink. Quickly shake off the stress of the day, switch off with a few drinks and get in a good mood. More and more young people no longer need company to drink alcohol. You can also fill your glass by yourself. As a new study from the USA shows, this is increasingly becoming a problem. Because anyone who drinks alone at a young age has a higher risk of being an alcoholic in their mid-30s – especially women.

The results, which a research team led by Kasey Creswell, associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has now published in the journal “Drug and Alcohol Dependence”, are worrying. Young women who have been drinking alone by the age of 18 are much more likely to develop alcoholism later than those who only drink socially. The risk of having alcohol problems at the age of 35 increased by 86 percent for them. For men, the risk increased by only eight percent. Those who drank alone in their early 20s increased their risk by 60 percent—both men and women.

Solo drinkers are more likely to be affected by alcoholism later on

For the analysis, the scientists used the data from the “Monitoring the Future” study, which ran over a period of 17 years. 4500 people took part in this. They were first asked about their alcohol consumption while they were in high school, later at the age of 22 or 23 and at 35. About a quarter of the young people had indicated that they also drink alone. Among young adults it was even 40 percent.

It is well known that the frequency of consumption and also early excesses can have an influence on later handling of alcohol. So far, however, little attention has been paid to the danger of drinking alone. Creswell even considers this factor to be more dangerous. She says, “Drinking alone says a lot about your future risk of developing alcohol problems.” The main reason young people drink alone is to manage negative emotions, she explains. If alcohol is used in this way during the pandemic, this could increase the urge to drink and thus increase the number of problem drinkers.

In Germany, too, more alcohol is consumed

An observation that coincides with a Forsa survey. This found out that more alcohol has been consumed in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic. It is mainly adolescents and young adults who are increasingly reaching for the bottle. In the group of 16 to 29 year olds, one in eight said they had been drinking more since the pandemic. “Since there have been no special opportunities since Corona, young people are now reaching for beer, sparkling wine and the like more often – apparently also out of boredom, frustration and a lack of prospects,” said Michael Falkenstein, addiction expert at the KKH commercial health insurance company. They commissioned the survey. He, too, sees a great danger in the fact that increased consumption during the Corona crisis becomes a habit – “and this creates the risk of dependence”.

The Federal Ministry of Health states that 6.7 million people in Germany between the ages of 18 and 64 consume “alcohol in a form that is hazardous to health”. Around 1.6 million people in this age group are considered alcohol dependent. Germany remains a “high-consumption country” can also be read in the annual addiction report of the German Center for Addiction Questions.

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Quelle: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, CMU, KKH, BMG, DHS