Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Laura Holt


The aim of the current study was to better understand changes in college students’ substance use habits and motivations, specifically regarding alcohol, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. College students are deemed to be a high-risk group when it comes to substance use disorders and at risk to develop mental health disorders, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues. Emerging adults’ drinking may not have changed drastically during the pandemic; however, a subset of individuals might have been more vulnerable to increased drinking. Participants consisted of junior and senior college students (N=20) between the ages of 20 and 23 years old. Each participant completed a pre-interview survey, consisting of questions related to the frequency and quantity of alcohol use before and during the pandemic, mental health care history and utilization, the Drinking Motives Questionnaire-Revised, and the DSM-5 Cross-Cutting Measure. Participants then took part in a 30-minute interview. As hypothesized, alcohol consumption decreased during the initial lockdown compared to pre-pandemic levels and then increased upon returning to campus. Also as hypothesized, participants reported increased anxiety, depression, and stress during the pandemic due to a lack of control and isolation. The findings of the current study add to our understanding of how and why an individual’s substance use patterns changed or stabilized over time and the key factors motivating those changes. This study also may help us identify ways to best provide support for students with mental health difficulties to use substances in a less risky manner.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College in Hartford, CT for partial fulfillment for the Bachelor of Art Degree in Psychology.

Included in

Psychology Commons