Department of Psychiatry
Infectious Disease | Military and Veterans Studies | Psychiatry and Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction | Virus Diseases
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the globe, many veterans with substance use issues have faced the closure of treatment facilities, mandates to shelter in place, and social distancing measures. To better understand their pandemic experiences, substance use changes, and functioning, a survey was nationally administered to a sample of United States veterans reporting substance use issues during the pandemic. The purpose of this cross-sectional online survey for veterans (N = 409) was to report on COVID-19 experiences, safety behaviors, and infection experiences while also investigating the relationship among addictive behaviors, mental and physical health, and COVID-19 impact. Measures also assessed specific substance use concerns, pandemic-related loneliness, and functioning. Though few veterans reported personally receiving a confirmed COVID-19 medical diagnosis (10.5%), the impact of pandemic stressors was evident, with a majority reporting anxiety related to contracting COVID-19 (61.4%) or fear of a family member or close friend contracting COVID-19 (58.7%). Participants reported increased use of alcohol (45.3%), sedatives (36.6%), inhalants (35.7%), tobacco (35.0%), and cannabis (34.9%), attributed specifically to the pandemic. Regression analyses revealed that even when controlling for the contribution of problematic substance use issues, negative pandemic impacts and self-reported COVID-19 related loneliness were related to more impaired physical and mental health functioning during the pandemic. Findings from this sample of veterans with addiction issues add to the growing literature suggesting unique and adverse effects of COVID-19 stressors on functioning while also revealing specific pandemic impacts for this group.
addiction, functioning, pandemic (COVID-19), substance use disorders, veterans
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Copyright © 2022 Reilly, Chamberlin, Duarte, Harris, Shirk and Kelly. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
DOI of Published Version
Reilly ED, Chamberlin ES, Duarte BA, Harris JI, Shirk SD, Kelly MM. The Impact of COVID-19 on Self-Reported Substance Use, Well-Being, and Functioning Among United States Veterans: A Cross-Sectional Study. Front Psychol. 2022 Apr 11;13:812247. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.812247. PMID: 35478735; PMCID: PMC9035845. Link to article on publisher's site
Frontiers in psychology
Reilly ED, Chamberlin ES, Duarte BA, Harris JI, Shirk SD, Kelly M. (2022). The Impact of COVID-19 on Self-Reported Substance Use, Well-Being, and Functioning Among United States Veterans: A Cross-Sectional Study. COVID-19 Publications by UMass Chan Authors. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.812247. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/covid19/393
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.