Using Substances to Cope With the COVID-19 Pandemic: U.S. National Data at Age 19 Years

Megan E Patrick, Michael J. Parks, Anne M. Fairlie, Noah T. Kreski, Katherine M. Keyes, Richard Miech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine predictors of using substances to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, including pandemic-related isolation, stress, economic hardship, demographics, and prepandemic substance use. Methods: A U.S. national sample (N = 1,244) was followed from the 12th grade in Spring 2019 to Fall 2020 (M = 19.6 years) when young adults were asked about their use of marijuana, vaping, drinking, and other drugs to cope. Results: In Fall 2020, 15.7% reported using marijuana, 8.9% increased vaping, and 8.2% increased drinking to cope with social distancing and isolation. In multivariable analyses controlling for demographics and prepandemic substance use, COVID-related isolation was associated with marijuana use (odds ratio = 1.31, 95% confidence interval = 1.06–1.63) and economic hardship with increased drinking (odds ratio = 1.39, 95% confidence interval = 1.01–1.92). There were few demographic differences. Most (>80%) who reported COVID-related substance use coping used that substance before pandemic. Discussion: Young people reported using substances to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially if they reported prepandemic use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-344
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection and manuscript preparation were supported by research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( R01DA001411 and R01DA016575 ). The study sponsors had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, writing of the manuscript, or the decision to submit the article for publication. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the study sponsor.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine


  • Coping
  • Drug
  • Isolation
  • Pandemic
  • Substance use


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