Comparing Alcohol Use of Pre-COVID-Era and COVID-Era Cohorts of Mandated College Student Drinkers

Sayre E. Wilson, Sage R. Feltus, Alison M. Brenman, Kate B. Carey, A. N.G.E.L.O.M. Dibello, Nadine R. Mastroleo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Studies report mixed findings on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on college student alcohol consumption. However, the impact of pandemic restrictions on students referred to an intervention following a campus alcohol violation has not yet been studied. The current study examined alcohol use behaviors and perceived drinking norms among mandated student cohorts enrolled in the pre-COVID-19 era (fall 2019) and COVID-19 era (fall 2020). Method: Participants (N = 228) completed measures focused on alcohol use and associated behaviors. Analytic models controlled for participant age and entailed negative binomial regressions for count outcomes and analyses of covariance for normally distributed continuous outcomes. Results: COVID-era cohort students reported fewer drinks, pregaming occa-sions (i.e., drinking before a social occasion such as a sports event), and drinks while pregaming. Frequency of heavy episodic drinking (HED) remained consistent between groups; however, the peak number of drinks during HED was significantly lower in the COVID-era group, as were Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test scores and alcohol-related consequences. Perceived peer norms for frequency and quantity were significantly higher in the COVID-era group. Regression confirmed a significant impact of norms on both frequency and quantity of alcohol use in both cohorts. Conclusions: Mandated college students during the COVID-19 pandemic consumed less alcohol, engaged in less pregaming, consumed fewer drinks while pregaming, and reported fewer negative alcohol consequences than a cohort from the previous year. In this campus case study of residential students who violate campus alcohol policy, COVID restrictions were associated with reduced overall quantity and risky practices. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 83, 480–485, 2022).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-485
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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