Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Mental Health and Substance Use

Main Article Content

Millie Cordaro
Emma Johnson
Chris Kinstley
Kelly Haskard-Zolnierek
Rachel Medina
Jessica Perrotte
Jeffrey Howard
Krista Howard


Aim: Traumatic stressor events disrupt the normal daily functioning of individuals and groups, and the consequences of collective trauma magnify psychopathology and mental health issues. One overlooked mental health implication of traumatic stress is loneliness. The current study examines loneliness as a result of traumatic stress and its psycho-social correlates, including substance abuse and changes in daily health behaviors. Design: Cross-sectional, nationwide, online survey. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional, nationwide online survey that included 2,530 adults in the United States, 18-83 years old, and examined the associations between loneliness and psychosocial factors and substance use during the initial part of the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: Increased loneliness was associated with younger age, single marital status, and lower levels of education. Mental health disorders, including major depression, generalized anxiety, and somatization, were also associated with high levels of loneliness. Further, individuals with high levels of loneliness were more likely to report increased substance use, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Discussion: The findings of this study indicate that during times of collective traumatic events, high levels of loneliness are a risk factor for mental health and substance use. Further initiatives are warranted to create awareness and institute routine screenings for symptoms of loneliness to mitigate mental health distress and increases in substance abuse.

Article Details

loneliness, isolation, mental health, alcohol use, traumatic stress
How to Cite
Cordaro, M., Johnson, E., Kinstley, C., Haskard-Zolnierek, K., Medina, R. ., Perrotte, J., Howard, J., & Howard, K. (2024). Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Mental Health and Substance Use. Graduate Student Journal of Psychology, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.52214/gsjp.v23i1.12264