A quantitative study to establish whether the first COVID-19 lockdown restrictions influenced the (binge) drinking patterns of LJMU students.
Commendation for Significant Achievement
Keywords:Lockdown, Restrictions, Alcohol, Drinking, Binge drinking, Students, COVID-19, Pandemic
Student alcohol consumption and binge drinking are largely normalised within university communities. Despite evidence highlighting that physical, social, emotional, and cognitive impacts of consuming alcohol at binge levels, students continue to consume alcohol and binge drink. This study sought to explore the reasons why students drink alcohol and binge drink in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, examining if the first COVID-19 lockdown influenced students drinking patterns, and if so, why. A quantitative methodology was adopted, with an anonymous online questionnaire consisting of a variety of questions used to explore changes in LJMU students (aged 18 years and above) alcohol use and binge drinking patterns during and after the first COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. A total of 50 participants aged between 18-54 completed the questionnaire. The data found that the majority of students reported binge drinking on weekly basis during the COVID-19 lockdown with a small increase in the number of students reporting binge drinking since the easing of the lockdown. The study also identified a new trend of drinking virtually via online platforms with friends during lockdown, but this trend did not last beyond the ease of restrictions. The reasons for drinking during the first COVID-19 lockdown, were mainly cited as being due to boredom whilst catching up with their friends and making up for lost time were the predominant reasons after these restrictions were eased. Binge drinking is concerningly still a common behaviour among LJMU students, with more participants reporting getting unintentionally drunk since the ease of lockdown. The re-opening of participants’ preferred places to drink (i.e., drinking venues such as pubs and bars) influenced them to drink higher volumes of alcohol when compared to levels of drinking they reported in their homes during the lock-down. This shows that for students, drinking is a communal and social experience, and as their interaction was restricted during lockdown, they were prevented from drinking in their desired way, which is with other students in public drinking spaces.
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