Use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and other substances during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Europe: a survey on 36,000 European substance users

Jakob Manthey*, Carolin Kilian, Sinclair Carr, Miroslav Bartak, Kim Bloomfield, Fleur Braddick, Antoni Gual, Maria Neufeld, Amy O’Donnell, Benjamin Petruzelka, Vladimir Rogalewicz, Ingeborg Rossow, Bernd Schulte, Jürgen Rehm


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Background: SARS-CoV-2 reached Europe in early 2020 and disrupted the private and public life of its citizens, with potential implications for substance use. The objective of this study was to describe possible changes in substance use in the first months of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Europe. Methods: Data were obtained from a cross-sectional online survey of 36,538 adult substance users from 21 European countries conducted between April 24 and July 22 of 2020. Self-perceived changes in substance use were measured by asking respondents whether their use had decreased (slightly or substantially), increased (slightly or substantially), or not changed during the past month. The survey covered alcohol (frequency, quantity, and heavy episodic drinking occasions), tobacco, cannabis, and other illicit drug use. Sample weighted data were descriptively analysed and compared across substances. Results: Across all countries, use of all substances remained unchanged for around half of the respondents, while the remainder reported either a decrease or increase in their substance use. For alcohol use, overall, a larger proportion of respondents indicated a decrease than those reporting an increase. In contrast, more respondents reported increases in their tobacco and cannabis use during the previous month compared to those reporting decreased use. No distinct direction of change was reported for other substance use. Conclusions: Our findings suggest changes in use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis during the initial months of the pandemic in several European countries. This study offers initial insights into changes in substance use. Other data sources, such as sales statistics, should be used to corroborate these preliminary findings.

TidsskriftSubstance Abuse: Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
Udgave nummer1
StatusUdgivet - 26. apr. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The project is largely based on the commitment of the European Study Group on Alcohol use and COVID-19 whose members? contributions were indispensable for the realisation of the current project. We would therefore like to thank our partners, by name: Henri-Jean Aubin, Le Centre de recherche en Epid?milogie et Sant? des Populations, France; Katerina Koutra and Sofia Trivila, University of Crete, Greece; Elekes Zsuzsanna, Institute of Communication and Sociology, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary; Manuel Cardoso and Patricia Pissarra, Servi?o de Interven??o nos Comportamentos Aditivos e nas Depend?ncias, Portugal; Eugenia Fadeeva, Artyom Gil and Konstantin Vyshinsky, National Research Centre on Addictions - branch, V. Serbsky National Medical Research Centre for Psychiatry and Narcology, Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Russian Federation; Beata Gavurova, Technical University of Ko?ice, Slovakia; Sheila Gilheany, Alcohol Action Ireland, Ireland; Sveinbj?rn Kristj?nsson, and Rafn M J?nsson, Directorate of Health, Iceland; ?lafsd?ttir J?na Margr?t, Faculty of Social Work, University of Iceland, Iceland; Igor Linskiy, Institute of Neurology, Psychiatry and Narcology of the NAMS of Ukraine, Ukraine; Silvia Matrai, Nina Potapova, Chrisanthi Blithikioti, and Blanca Paniello, Cl?nic Foundation for Biomedical Research (FCRB) and Clinical Addictions Research Group (GRAC-GRE) Psychiatry Department, Neurosciences Institute, Hospital Cl?nic, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; Jacek Moskalewicz, Michae? Kucharski, and Janusz Sieros?awski, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Poland; Sandra Rados-Krnel, National Institute of Public Health, Slovenia; Peter Allebeck, Karolinska Institute, Sweden; Kirsimarja Raitasalo, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, University of Helsinki, Finland; Emanuele Scafato, Claudia Gandin, Silvia Ghirini, Alice Matone, and Riccardo Scipione, Instituto Superiore di Sanit?, Italy; Enkeleda Shkurti, Universiteti i Mjekesise Tirane, Albania.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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