Changes in retrospectively recalled alcohol use and hazardous drinking pre, during, and post an alcohol sales prohibition in Botswana during COVID pandemic.
Some countries, like Botswana, implemented absolute alcohol sales prohibitions as part of their public health response during the COVID pandemic to, inter alia, protect the health system from strain and reduce non-compliance with COVID health protocols. Investigating the changes in alcohol use following such prohibitions provides crucial feedback about their effectiveness and informs policies and interventions. This study aimed to determine differences in, and demographic correlates of, retrospectively recalled alcohol use and hazardous drinking pre, during and post the second alcohol sales prohibition in Botswana (5th August to 3rd September 2020)
An online cross-sectional survey with a convenience sample of 1318 adults with past 12 months drinking behaviour in Botswana was conducted in October 2020. Participants completed a modified Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C), and were expected to retrospectively recall their alcohol use pre, during, and post the alcohol sales prohibition. Friedman Test and Cochran’s Q Test were computed with post hoc analyses. Three multivariable logistic regression models were conducted. The prevalence of alcohol use was 91.7% (95%CI= 90.1-93.1) before the ban, 62.3% (95%CI= 59.7-64.9) during the second ban, and 90.4% (95%CI= 88.7-91.8) after the ban. Hazardous drinking decreased by 30% during the sales ban, and rose to the pre-ban levels of about 60% after the ban. Correlates of hazardous drinking at any of the three time points were being male (AOR ranging from 1.50 to 2.13 for all time points), earning between P3000-P6000 (AOR= 1.69 prior sales ban), being a student (AOR=.56 during the sales ban), and being employed (AOR= 1.45 post the sales ban.
The 30 day alcohol sales prohibition in Botswana was associated with temporary changes in alcohol use thereby likely contributing in providing the anticipated and much needed temporary relief to the health system.