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The One Recent Drinking Habit You Should Quit Now, Says Science

A study finds that pandemic-related drinking leads to more anxiety in women.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

Data has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant increase in the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption—especially among women. Now, a new study looks at women's drinking and COVID-related anxiety to explain why, if you've picked up a boozing habit during lockdown, it may be time to get that pattern in check.

The research, published in the Journal of Gynecology and Women's Health, cites the recent global uptick in drinking habits among women due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the stresses it induced, such as financial worries, juggling childcare, and so much more. It's one of the first to examine how anxiety played into an increase in women's alcohol consumption, but it also points to the notion that drinking is not an effective way of coping.

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The most telling finding is that women who reported drinking more after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic reported a significantly higher level of COVID-19 anxiety. As many of us know, drinking—especially binge drinking (or having four or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting, according to this study)—isn't a truly effective means of feeling better because it often leads to greater stress and anxiety.

Read on for more of this new study's eye-opening findings about women's alcohol use during COVID.

More women are drinking daily. 

Martini
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Women experienced "a three-fold increase in daily drinking" compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic—which can be extra problematic during the rapid spread of an infectious disease because of the surprising side effects alcohol has on your immune system.

A higher percentage of younger than older women reported that their drinking habits had increased since the pandemic started.

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And they may be having more than one glass.

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The number of women who said they stopped after one drink decreased by 7% (meaning a greater number of women went on to have more than one drink).

Interestingly, women with advanced degrees didn't drink significantly more often than they had before the pandemic—however, they drank more alcohol per sitting.

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Women may be opening a bottle after lunch.

opening wine
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Before COVID-19, only 4.4% of women said it was normal for them to drink alcohol before mid-afternoon, but the pandemic increased that to 16.1%. There was also a slight increase in the consumption of cocktails and hard liquor and beverages other than beer and wine. (Read our recent report on the worst alcoholic drink for your body to understand why this point in particular raises a flag.)

Married women are drinking more.

Woman's relaxing at home on the sofa with a bottle of wine and glass by her side.
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Married women reported drinking more since the pandemic than single or cohabitating women. The study raises the possibility that this could be because having a spouse at home all day long reinforces gender roles in ways that are no longer comfortable for women.

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Women with children are not drinking more.

Mother and child wear facemask during coronavirus and flu outbreak.
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Having children did not create a marked increase in how much women drank. (That "Mommy's sippy cup"  rumor can be put to rest…)

If you're looking to clean up your pandemic living diet and health patterns, we've got more to educate and inspire you. Check out one major side effect of late-night snacking.

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants, groceries, and more. Read more