EAU CLAIRE (WQOW)- A new Mayo Clinic study suggests there have been significant shifts in substance abuse among young adults during the pandemic, with some encouraging results, and some not so much.

Mayo officials surveyed over 1,000 adults ages 18-25, and roughly 34% of them reported changes in substance abuse patterns.

Of those, vaping and smoking rates decreased for nearly half of those who responded.

However, the most staggering finding was that nearly 70% of respondents increased alcohol consumption. Roughly half of them self-reported having depression or an anxiety disorder, which doctors believe contributed to the spike in drinking.

“We thought that with COVID-19, loneliness is a real thing,” said Dr. Pravesh Sharma, a substance use researcher at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. “School and colleges are closed, gatherings are limited, and that creates a negative mood state in a lot of people, and young adults often indulge in drinking behavior to cope with those negative mood states.”

Sharma said as news spread about lung damage caused by vaping in early 2019, as well as COVID-19 affecting lung health, more young adults turned away from vaping and smoking.

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