Correlates of COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Increases in Sleep Aid and Anti-Anxiety Medication Use

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Journal of Substance Use

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Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has created a stressful environment of fear, isolation, and economic instability. This study quantifies rates of self-reported increases in use of anxiety-related medications and sleep aids, and identifies demographic, health and psychosocial correlates during the initial stay-at-home period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: An online survey was administered to U.S. adults (n = 2,739), aged 18 and older, from April 14 to April 22, 2020 to assess self-reported change in anti-anxiety and sleep aid use during the stay-at-home protocols. Data were weighted to the US population for analysis. Results: Weighted results indicate anti-anxiety and sleep aid medications increased for 35.7% and 41.2% of the population, respectively. Major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and somatization disorder (SD) symptoms were associated with increased use of anti-anxiety medications. GAD and SD were associated with increased use of sleep aids. Perceived stress, quality of life, fatigue and concentration were associated with increased use of anti-anxiety medication and sleep aids. Conclusions: These findings provide critical insights necessary in preparing for future outbreaks of similar magnitude. Developing policies to support economic and healthcare infrastructure is a necessary first step to ameliorating secondary health consequences from an infectious disease outbreak.


Anxiety; COVID-19; Prescription drug use; Sleep aid; Stress


Chemicals and Drugs | Public Health



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