Changes in alcohol-related hospital visits during COVID-19 in New York City

© 2021 Society for the Study of Addiction..

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Increased alcohol consumption has been proposed as a potential consequence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. There has been little scrutiny of alcohol use behaviors resulting in hospital visits, which is essential to guide pandemic public policy. We aimed to determine whether COVID-19 peak restrictions were associated with increased hospital visits for alcohol use or withdrawal. Secondary objectives were to describe differences based on age, sex and race, and to examine alcohol-related complication incidence.

DESIGN: Multi-center, retrospective, pre-post study.

SETTING: New York City health system with five participating hospitals.

PARTICIPANTS: Adult emergency department encounters for alcohol use, alcoholic gastritis or pancreatitis or hepatitis, alcohol withdrawal syndrome, withdrawal seizure or delirium tremens.

MEASUREMENTS: Age, sex, race, site and encounter diagnosis. Encounters were compared between 2019 and 2020 for 1 March to 31 May.

FINDINGS: There were 2790 alcohol-related visits during the 2019 study period and 1793 in 2020, with a decrease in total hospital visits. Of 4583 alcohol-related visits, median age was 47 years, with 22.3% females. In 2020 there was an increase in percentage of visits for alcohol withdrawal [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.34, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.07-1.67] and withdrawal with complications (aOR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.14-1.72), and a decline in percentage of hospital visits for alcohol use (aOR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.59-0.85) and use with complications (aOR = 0.71, 95% CI = 0.58-0.88). It is unknown whether use visit changes mirror declines in other chief complaints. The age groups 18-29 and 60-69 years were associated with increased visits for use and decreased visits for withdrawal, as were non-white race groups. Sex was not associated with alcohol-related visit changes despite male predominance.

CONCLUSIONS: In New York City during the initial COVID-19 peak (1 March to 31 May 2020), hospital visits for alcohol withdrawal increased while those for alcohol use decreased.

Media Type:

Electronic Article

Year of Publication:


Contained In:

Addiction (Abingdon, England) - Vol. 116, No. 12 (2021), p. 3525-3530




Schimmel, Jonathan
Vargas-Torres, Carmen
Genes, Nicholas
Probst, Marc A
Manini, Alex F



Keywords: Schlagworte

Date Completed 11.11.2021

Date Revised 01.12.2021

published: Print-Electronic

Citation Status MEDLINE

Copyright: From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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