Introduction: This study examined associations between pandemic-related PTSD symptoms and substance use among adults, the role of gender and socioeconomic status in these outcomes, and the supports that adults needed to address these problems during Wave 1 of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta, Canada . Methods and Measures: Data were collected from 933 community-based adults without a previous diagnosis of PTSD in June 2020 . The Primary Care PTSD Screen was adapted to assess pandemic-related PTSD symptoms . Participants were asked if alcohol or cannabis use had increased in the past month . Adjusted logistic regression models examined associations between pandemic-related PTSD symptoms and substance use .
Results: More women (19 %) than men (13 %) met criteria for high pandemic-related PTSD symptomology, while a similar percentage (13.4% of women , 13.2% of men) reported significant increases in substance use during the pandemic . Adults 18-35 years; those who believed they would become infected with the virus; and those with low income, education, or pandemic-related job loss were more likely to report PTSD symptoms . High pandemic-related PTSD symptomology was associated with a significant substance use increase among both women (OR = 2.2) and men (OR = 2.3) in adjusted models . Many adults (50% of women , 40% of men) reported they needed help to address these problems .
Conclusions: Pandemic-related PTSD symptoms were common among adults during Wave 1 of COVID-19 . These symptoms were associated with a significant increase in substance use among women and men . Many adults voiced a need for help with these problems . Findings suggest substance use interventions that consider and address pandemic-related PTSD symptoms may be needed.
Index: Alcohol, COVID-19, Cannabis, Gender, PTSD, Socioeconomic status