Home delivery of alcohol linked to increased alcohol consumption and binge drinking

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many states expanded online alcohol sales and alcohol home delivery laws. One of the first U.S. studies of the impact on adults of home delivery of alcohol during the early months of the pandemic found significantly more alcohol consumption and binge drinking among those who obtained their alcohol through home delivery than those who did not. These results and others will be shared at the 46th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcohol (RSA) in Bellevue, Washington.

'Home delivery' refers to when restaurants, bars, or retailers use their own employees or a third-party delivery system such as DoorDash or UberEats to deliver alcohol to consumers' homes. Although the number of states that allowed home delivery was already trending upwards during the last two decades, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased these numbers."

Elyse R. Grossman, social & behavioral sciences administrator, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Grossman will discuss these findings at the RSA meeting on Tuesday, 27 June 2023.

Examination of legal databases found that the number of states permitting home delivery of alcohol dramatically increased between 2020 and 2022; for example, 21 states in January 2020 permitted home delivery of alcohol by off-premise establishments such as retailers, increasing to 38 states by January 2022. Similarly, the number of states permitting home delivery of alcohol by on-premise establishments such as restaurants or bars increased from 23 states to 39 states during the same time period.

"Although data from early in the pandemic showed large increases in alcohol sales, it was unclear at that time if individuals were increasing their alcohol consumption or only stockpiling the alcohol," said Grossman. "In May 2020, we conducted an online survey of U.S. adults ages 21+ living throughout the country; the final sample included 838 participants. We found that, of the adults who obtained at least some of their alcohol via delivery, they reported consuming significantly more alcohol and binge drinking significantly more often than participants who did not obtain their alcohol through delivery."

Grossman noted that although many states expanded their home delivery laws during COVID-19 as a way to help businesses, few states considered the potential impact on public health. "In the future," she said, "it is important that public health be given greater weight when states are considering policy decisions which increase access to alcohol. Furthermore, although we did not examine youth drinking habits – given the increase in access to alcohol for youth via expanded home delivery laws, and the fact that retailers and third-party delivery drivers often do not check IDs – we hypothesize that youth drinking habits were probably also negatively impacted by expanded home delivery laws and strongly urge future research in this area."

Grossman will present these findings, "The public health impact of expanding U.S. alcohol home delivery laws on alcohol consumption during COVID-19," during the RSA 2023 meeting in Bellevue, Washington on Tuesday, 27 June 2022. More information can be found at RSoA on Twitter @RSAposts. The author can also be reached on Twitter @Grossman_Elyse.


Research Society on Alcoholism

Posted in: Medical Research News | Healthcare News

Tags: Alcohol, Binge Drinking, covid-19, Drug Abuse, Health and Human Services, Pandemic, Public Health, Research

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