Alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems during the COVID-19 pandemic: a narrative review [2020]

To summarise publications reporting on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems during the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in a narrative review.

ProQuest, Web of Science and Google Scholar were searched for articles published in 2020. This search used two terms: ‘alcohol’ and ‘COVID’. Reference lists of articles were reviewed to identify additional articles.

There is growing concern around an increase in alcohol intake and alcohol-related harms. These concerns are related to the impact of excessive alcohol consumption in a person with COVID-19 and/or with alcohol use disorder, as well as with a potential increase in the prevalence of harmful drinking, alcohol use disorder, withdrawal symptoms, intimate partner violence, harm to children, suicide, mental health problems and non-communicable diseases. The need for assessing alcohol use and providing adequate advice during the pandemic have been highlighted.

The time for action is now, and all necessary measures to prevent an increase in alcohol-related problems should be adopted. At the same time, healthcare services should also prepare for such potential increase, while adapting to the exceptional circumstances presented by the pandemic, such as physical distancing.

Rodrigo Ramalho
Australasian Psychiatry, July 28, 2020