Factors associated with increase in alcohol consumption during first months of COVID‑19 pandemic among online social media users in Russia
The significant proportion of the Russian population are active online social media users. Changes in alcohol consumption in this target group during the COVID-19 pandemic remain understudied. The aim of this survey was to investigate changes in alcohol consumption and factors associated with the increase in alcohol use among online social media users in Russia during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. An online survey was conducted among 1,518 users of online social networking services popular in Russia from June to September 2020. The survey revealed that 35.4% of men and 25.6% of women started drinking more frequently during the first months of the pandemic; 24.9% of men and 17.7% of women increased their usual consumption (volume) of alcohol on a typical drinking occasion, whereas 28.5% of men and 27.9% of women increased the frequency of heavy episodic drinking. Adjusted binary logistic regression analysis revealed a positive association between the increase in the frequency of alcohol consumption and the following factors: age from 18 to 29 years (OR: 1.710; 95% CI: 1.002–2.917), severe restrictions in everyday private life (OR: 3.127; 95% CI: 1.011–9.675) and severe negative professional or financial consequences due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (OR: 2.247; 95% CI: 1.131–4.465). The odds of an increase in the frequency of heavy episodic drinking were more than twice higher (OR: 2.329; 95% CI: 1.001–5.428) among those who had experienced severe negative consequences of the pandemic to their professional and financial situation. Higher typical frequency and usual consumption (volume) of alcohol on a typical drinking occasion and higher typical frequency of heavy episodic drinking before the pandemic were positively significantly associated with the increase in these parameters of alcohol consumption during the first months of the pandemic. In times of large-scale epidemics and public health crises, it is advisable to consider the possibility of implementing screening and brief interventions, including via online social media, to prevent problems associated with alcohol use.