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We drank more during the shutdown, especially those of us with kids at home, study says

A University of South Florida-St. Petersburg psychology professor exploring the "self-medication hypothesis" found that people reported drinking more. Gender and kids made for interesting twists.

At Whiskey Willie’s in Town ‘N Country, where you can buy beer, wine and spirits, owner Wally Saba noticed a trend in the time of the coronavirus.

Customers tend to go for the “twice-as-big” double bottle, he says.

Across the bay at Pasadena Liquors & Fine Wine, co-owner Jimmy Valenty says business is up 25 to 30 percent during the pandemic.

“Some stores are up 50, 60 percent because they do online and delivery,” he reports.

In what is probably news to no one, people drank more alcoholic beverages as the coronavirus kept us at home than they did before, according to a study conducted by a psychology professor at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg.

Here’s the twist: People with children at home reported drinking more, not less, the study found.

And women tended to have more drinks in one sitting than before, essentially catching up to men.

Professor Lindsey Rodriguez read that alcohol sales were going up during the pandemic, and she wondered if that meant people were drinking at home because bars were closed, or drinking more in general.

She surveyed 754 people from across the country from April 17-23, which overlapped with many stay-at-home orders.

In addition to answering questions about alcohol use, people responded to statements, including: “The coronavirus outbreak has impacted my psychological health negatively” and “I am stressed around other people because I worry I’ll catch the coronavirus.”

About 40 percent of the respondents said their drinking had increased. While both men and women said they drank more, women’s drinking essentially caught up to men’s “when they were very stressed out,” Rodriguez found.

And parents with children at home reported higher rates of heavy drinking episodes and a higher number of drinks, Rodriguez found.

“Having children home during this period can be stressful for parents, who are also often trying to manage several tasks at once — homeschooling, keeping kids engaged, household tasks, oftentimes work,” Rodriguez said in a release.

The average age of a respondent to the survey was 42.

Rodriguez said she believes drinking quantity and frequency in response to “pandemic-related distress” should continue to be monitored, and encouraged light to moderate drinking habits.

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