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Americans Drink Responsibly During COVID-19

Encouraging Americans who choose to drink to drink responsibly is a core mission of our organization. We wanted to check in with Americans to see how the pandemic may have changed their drinking.

Today we released a survey which found that Americans (86%) remain overwhelmingly confident in their ability to drink responsibly despite COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, with close to half (45%) reporting extreme confidence (rating of “10” on a 0-10 scale). Furthermore, more than 9 in 10 Americans with children living at home (94%) say it is important to talk to their children about the dangers of underage drinking, with 48% saying it is more important, and 46% saying it is equally as important as before the pandemic.

Nearly 1 in 4 Americans (23%) cite purchasing more alcohol beverages since the stay-at-home orders were implemented. However, more than 6 in 10 cite drinking about the same or less alcohol (beer, wine, cocktails, spirits) since stay-at-home orders were issued.

One fourth of Americans (23%) report drinking more since the stay-at-home orders were issued, 28% report drinking less (17%) or stopping drinking altogether (11%) and another third (35%) say they are drinking about the same amount. The inability to go out (38%) and bar/restaurant closures (33%) are cited as the top reason why Americans are drinking less. And while these reasons show up prominently in the list of reasons Americans are drinking more alcohol (49% and 34%, respectively), boredom (52%), stress (49%) and anxiety (42%) are the main reasons they say they have been drinking more. Additionally, for those that stopped drinking alcohol beverages, not being able to go out (27%) and anxiety (18%) are the most cited reasons as to why they stopped drinking, however, many stopping alcohol consumption for other reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not increased drinking during core business hours (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for 4 out of 5 Americans.  A third of adults cite never drinking during working hours and 21% are drinking less (13%) or have stopped drinking (8%). For those drinking less they cite their inability to go out (36%), bars/restaurants closed (31%), and limited or no access to alcohol (26%). Among the 16% who report they are drinking more during working hours, over half mention boredom (56%) followed by stress (46%).

As a result of the stay-at-home orders, consuming alcohol beverages is the only activity tested that has seen an increase in the past 30 days compared to the last year (from 71% to 79%). While eating in a restaurant was the most common activity in the past 12 months (91% reported), only one-fifth of Americans (19%) report doing so in the past 30 days.

These survey results show Americans continue to make responsible choices about alcohol. And while responsibility comes in many forms – modeling responsible behavior, practicing self-care, taking time for a conversation with your kids about alcohol, giving back to those in need, adhering to your personal limits when consuming alcohol, not speeding or driving impaired on roads with much fewer cars – know there are resources to draw on for support during these challenging times.

Three decades into this work, we are proud to lead efforts to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and empower adults to make responsible alcohol choices, including not drinking, as part of a health lifestyle.

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