Andersson MJ, Håkansson A
Heliyon 8 (7) e09934 [2022-07-00; online 2022-07-14]
The COVID-19 pandemic and its societal impact may cause long-term behavioral changes in alcohol use due to increased psychological distress, unemployment, and time spent home. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on treatment seeking for alcohol use disorders and related problems in a Swedish psychiatric treatment facility. Using an interrupted-time-series design on data derived from an addiction-specific psychiatric treatment facility located in Malmö, Sweden, we hypothesized that treatment seeking would decrease during the pandemic based on previous research identifying limited alcohol availability and affordability, as well as accessibility to treatment centers as influential factors. In addition, we assessed the predictive power of alcohol sales and number of active cases in the region using simple linear regressions. Results indicated that the pandemic had little to no effect on the number of people needing care, however a significant step change was found in treatment seeking patterns for unique female patients during the second wave (October 2020). Regression analyses indicated that alcohol sales and the number of active cases in the region did not significantly predict treatment seeking. A causal relationship between the onset of the pandemic and variation in treatment seeking for alcohol use could not be established. More research is needed to fully understand the pandemic's impact on alcohol use behavior change.