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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Alcohol perils increase for young adults during COVID

News Release

Alcohol perils increase for young adults during COVID

What: Recent media reports serve as stark reminders that alcohol remains a danger to college students during the on-going pandemic. Since the Spring 2021 semester began, alcohol has caused or contributed to at least four deaths on college campuses.  Now many college students are flocking to Spring Break destinations, raising the prospect of large crowds and underage and harmful drinking, and stoking concerns for additional alcohol-related tragedies as well as for increased transmission of the novel coronavirus. 

In the COVID-19 era, young adults – including those of college age - are facing unprecedented stressors. Uncertainty about the future, lost income and social isolation can lead to uncomfortable conditions, such as loneliness, anxiety and depression.  Alcohol misuse often accompanies, and worsens, these conditions.  Research conducted early during the COVID pandemic has linked increased drinking to coping with stress, and researchers are concerned that a potential spike in alcohol use disorder (AUD) could be a consequence.

“Before the pandemic, young people were engaging in significant alcohol misuse,” says Dr. George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.  “Our concern is that these numbers could increase for young people during the pandemic.  We must continue to encourage college students to take the appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure that they have the tools, support, and strategies needed to cope with stress and avoid alcohol misuse.” 

Who: NIAAA Director George F. Koob, Ph.D., is available to discuss alcohol risks, treatments, and support for young people during COVID.

About the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is the primary U.S. agency for conducting and supporting research on the causes, consequences, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol use disorder. NIAAA also disseminates research findings to general, professional, and academic audiences. Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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