Online Symposium ~ 7 July 2021

Sussex Addiction Research & Intervention Centre

Drug and Behavioural Addictions:

COVID-19 and Beyond

Explore the information below to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on various forms of addiction and their treatment

Part 1: Alcohol & Drug Use

‘I drink, therefore I am’: Stories from India

Abhijit Nadkarni

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

In my talk I contextualise the epidemiology of alcohol use and alcohol use disorders in India on the background of the COVID-19 pandemic. I give illustrative examples of how the pandemic influenced the drinking and drinking outcomes in India, with a special focus on the national lockdown. I also share some preliminary data from our online survey examining the impact of the pandemic. Finally, I end with some lessons from our existing intervention models and the relevance of such models in the current times.

The effect of health messages on intentions to consume alcohol during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Fiona Walker

University of Sussex, UK

My study explored drinking behaviour during the Covid-19 lockdown; and whether a context-relevant health message about alcohol and immunity would have a greater impact on cognitive precursors of drinking than other messages. I discuss my findings that participants receiving an immunity focused message were more motivated to adhere to low-risk drinking guidelines than those exposed to other health messages or a control message.

COVID-19, alcohol and drugs: Trends and changes through lockdown and beyond.

Sarah Osborn and Nicholas Sinclair-House

University of Sussex, UK

We examined changes in drug and alcohol use following the introduction of social distancing measures and lockdowns in Europe, Canada and the US, detecting a general trend away from stimulant drugs and towards sedative drugs. We also explore the question of whether observed changes in usage patterns reverse as social distancing measures are eased, or whether some changes prove more persistent than others.

COVID-19 prevalence in people with opioid use disorder.

Aldo Badiani

Sapienza University, Italy;
University of Sussex, UK

Previous reports have suggested that the prevalence of COVID-19 might be lower in individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) than in the general population. In this preliminary study, we explored the prevalence of COVID-19 and the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a sample of clients of Villa Maraini Foundation, an ONG affiliated to the International Red Cross-Red Crescent that provides free services to drug users in the metropolitan area of Rome.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Supervised Injecting Facilities in Australia.

Amanda Roxburgh

Burnet Institute, Australia

This presentation outlines how the two supervised injecting facilities in Australia adapted through COVID-19. It investigates the challenges services faced to remain open, the challenges clients faced, the impact on client visits and drug markets, and the learnings from the last 12 months.

Part 2: Behavioural Addictions

Behavioural addictions during COVID-19: Predictors of risk and resilience.

Lucy Albertella and Erynn Christensen

Monash University, Australia

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in high levels of psychological distress worldwide and increases across several different addictive behaviours as individuals seek to cope with their distress. Behavioural addictions, which can be as impairing and distressing for an individual as traditional addictions, appear to have been especially influenced by COVID-19. Understanding the modifiable and/or easily identifiable factors that predict increases in behavioural addictions during COVID-19 can inform clinical practice in terms of assessing risk and advising lifestyle change & support. Toward this aim, this talk presents the findings from our national longitudinal study, with a focus on lifestyle- and health-related predictors of risk and resilience across four different addictive behaviours: problematic gambling, problematic pornography use, problematic internet use, and excessive eating.

The impact of Physical Distancing on Body Image, Exercise Addiction and the use of Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs.

Ornella Corazza

University of Hertfordshire, UK

Little is known about the impact of restrictive measures during the COVID-19 pandemic on self-image and engagement in exercise and other coping strategies alongside the use of image and performance enhancing drugs (IPED). During this talk, the results of a cross-sectional investigation involving various psychometric measures among 3,161 participants based in seven countries are presented. Considerations on the implementation of more targeted responses, especially for vulnerable individuals, are shared.

Changes in addictive and problematic behaviours in Hungary during the COVID-19-related lockdowns.

Zsolt Demetrovics

Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming, University of Gibraltar, Gibraltar;
ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary

As the global COVID-19 pandemic reached Hungary, a nationwide lockdown was enforced. To explore whether there is a risk for developing potentially problematic online and offline behaviors (i.e., gambling, online gaming, pornography use, compulsive sexual behavior, social media use, substance use), a longitudinal self-report survey study was conducted in Hungary, at three different stages of lockdown (complete, partial, and minimal extent). Besides the aforementioned behaviors, several indicators of ill-being (e.g., perceived stress, depressive mood, loneliness, sensation seeking, anxiety about the future and general well-being) and items about COVID-19 involvement were assessed. Potential changes in the frequency and problematic engagement in the aforementioned behaviors are presented in an exploratory manner, considering the roles of ill-being indicators.

COVID-19, changes in gambling activity, and self-exclusion in Sweden.

Anders C Håkansson

Lund University, Sweden

Our research group has carried out a number of surveys and objective measures of gambling behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. I present data describing what may have changed - and what hasn't - with respect to gambling during the pandemic. In addition, Sweden has a unique, nationwide multi-operator self-exclusion service, and data from this is also presented.