Alcohol consumption in the aftermath of a natural disaster: A longitudinal study

Nordl√łkken, A., Pape, H., & Heir, T. (2016). Alcohol consumption in the aftermath of a natural disaster: A longitudinal study. Public Health, 132, 33-39. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2015.11.007

In this study, we examined changes in alcohol consumption in the aftermath of a natural disaster, as well as possible predictors of both increased and decreased drinking.

Study design:

Observational longitudinal study.

Methods:

Repatriated Norwegian adults who resided in areas affected by the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami completed a questionnaire at 6 and 24 months postdisaster (N = 649).

Results:

Weekly alcohol consumption and frequency of intoxication did not change significantly from 6 to 24 months postdisaster at the population level: 18.3% (n = 116) increased their alcohol consumption while 21.1% (n = 125) showed a reduction.

Increased drinking was not predicted by severity of disaster exposure, post-traumatic stress, or measures of psychological functioning. Reduced alcohol consumption was predicted by younger age and social withdrawal, but not by any of the other study variables.

Conclusion:

Our findings indicate that the tsunami experience had only minor effects on alcohol consumption, in contrast to some studies suggesting a relationship between trauma exposure and increased alcohol consumption.