What Pandemic? A Multisite Study of Drinking Motives and Drinking Games Participation Among College Students During a Pandemic (COVID-19) Academic Year

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A drinking game (DG) is a widely practiced social activity that tends to encourage rapid alcohol consumption. While social restrictions during the pandemic (COVID-19) academic year were implemented as a health measure across many colleges/universities, the extent to which college student drinkers continued to play DGs in-person is not well understood. Because theory and research suggest that drinking motives are proximal correlates of drinking behaviors, we examined which drinking motives increased the likelihood of playing DGs in-person, and playing DGs in-person in a group of 10 + people during the 2020–21 pandemic academic year. College students (past-year drinkers) from 12 universities completed an online survey (N = 900; Mage = 19.42, Range = 18–25; SDage = 1.45, White = 73.1%, 69.2% female). Of the students surveyed, 590 students played DGs, with 460 students only playing DGs in-person. Of the students who played DGs in-person, 274 students reported that the maximum number of people they played DGs with in-person exceeded the CDC’s recommended guidelines (10 + people). Accounting for demographics, general alcohol use, and perceived COVID-19 threat, social drinking motives were positively associated with an increased likelihood of playing DGs in-person; the inverse was found for coping motives. Drinking motives were not associated with the likelihood of playing DGs with 10 + people but greater alcohol use and lower perceived threat of COVID-19 were. Given that the pandemic did not deter many student drinkers from playing DGs in-person, further investment in targeted intervention and public health initiatives aimed at substance-free alternatives promoting engagement and enhancement of social activities may be needed.

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Addictive Behaviors



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