Presentation Title

The Effects of COVID-19 on Substance Use Behaviors at UVM

Project Collaborators

Dr. William Copeland (Research Advisor)

Abstract

The effect of COVID-19 on college students is unique. Many US college and university students were vacated from their campus residences as their institutions switched to remote instruction. Previously published literature cites the negative mental health effects in college students that COVID-19 has provided. Exacerbation of mental health is known to be a risk factor in substance use disorder (SUD). We used survey data from a subsample of a large, ongoing longitudinal study that examines student wellness and substance use at the University of Vermont (WE) (n=675) to study the potential effects of COVID-19 on substance use behaviors. We hypothesized that there would be a difference in substance use behaviors pre and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nature of this continuous study allows for the baseline to be measured before the COVID-19 pandemic while minimizing time-related reporting biases. We found statistically significant decreases in overall marijuana and liquor use along with significant interaction effects of gender, socioeconomic status, and wellness program status on tobacco use. We were surprised that SUD rates decreased in the face of the Pandemic, leading to the question of the role that living on campus plays on the rates of SUD in college-aged students.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. William Copeland

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Neuroscience

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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The Effects of COVID-19 on Substance Use Behaviors at UVM

The effect of COVID-19 on college students is unique. Many US college and university students were vacated from their campus residences as their institutions switched to remote instruction. Previously published literature cites the negative mental health effects in college students that COVID-19 has provided. Exacerbation of mental health is known to be a risk factor in substance use disorder (SUD). We used survey data from a subsample of a large, ongoing longitudinal study that examines student wellness and substance use at the University of Vermont (WE) (n=675) to study the potential effects of COVID-19 on substance use behaviors. We hypothesized that there would be a difference in substance use behaviors pre and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nature of this continuous study allows for the baseline to be measured before the COVID-19 pandemic while minimizing time-related reporting biases. We found statistically significant decreases in overall marijuana and liquor use along with significant interaction effects of gender, socioeconomic status, and wellness program status on tobacco use. We were surprised that SUD rates decreased in the face of the Pandemic, leading to the question of the role that living on campus plays on the rates of SUD in college-aged students.