Don’t plan on just dropping by the new bar opening at the USC Health Sciences Campus next year. It will look, feel and sound like a real pub — complete with bar stools, genuine alcohol and TVs blaring sports— but it’s better described as a bar lab. Entry will require enrolling in a scientific study, and a visit will end not with last call but a blood draw at the clinic next door.
Data show a sharp increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic and habits have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
This scientific watering hole is part of the big plans from the new USC Institute for Addiction Science which brings together experts from across the university including the Keck School of Medicine, the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, the USC School of Pharmacy and other affiliated clinical centers to study and treat substance dependence.
Studying addiction and alcohol abuse has taken on increased importance: Data show a sharp increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic, and habits have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
As public spaces reopen, researchers can start examining the short- and long-term consequences of this wave of increased drinking. Experience gives them a good idea of what to expect: Not everyone will respond the same way to excess drinking, but many will be susceptible to addiction, liver diseases or other problems.