Alcoholism on Demand: Are Alcohol Delivery Services Enabling People with Alcohol Use Disorders?
There is almost nothing that you can’t get on demand these days, as long as you live in the right areas, and many are concerned that alcohol is on that list. Though it has long been possible to order bottles of wine from the grocery store as part of your delivery, two food delivery services in Southern California have put alcohol on the menu within days of each other: Instacart and Postmates.
Instacart now offers patrons the option of ordering from BevMo in Orange County. Patrons can order any kind of beer, wine, or spirits alone or as part of a larger grocery order from other retailers. This announcement came about a week after Postmates announced that they would be adding alcohol as an option to their patrons as well. Meanwhile, DoorDash has been offering alcohol delivery from a range of different restaurants, liquor stores, and breweries across Southern California for almost a year.
While every delivery requires proof that the buyer is over the age of 21, many are concerned that the easy access to alcohol means that people who are drinking will continue to imbibe after they are too intoxicated to drive to get more alcohol. There is also concern that some will develop an alcohol use disorder when they otherwise would not, with quick access to alcohol delivered conveniently to their doors.
Could alcohol delivery services contribute to the rate of alcohol use disorders?
Some say that alcohol delivery services may actually reduce the rate of problems associated with alcohol use disorders, especially in terms of drinking and driving. That is, if a person is intoxicated and would like to buy more alcohol, rather than getting behind the wheel to go to the store, they can order alcohol to be delivered instead. In this way, they stay where they are and do not endanger themselves and others by drinking and driving.
Others suggest that it might help some to drink in moderation as well. The idea is that the hefty delivery charges and service fees attached to each order might deter people from calling out for multiple orders. Instead, they might order what they believe to be a reasonable amount for personal use or a party, and when it runs out, it’s gone.
Others take a much dimmer view of the ever-increasing alcohol delivery services. They say that increased access to alcohol always means increased intake of alcohol, which in turn leads to higher rates of alcohol use and abuse and all the things that go hand in hand with that problem. That is, it is suggested that higher rates of domestic violence, assault, drinking and driving, and medical health issues related to heavy alcohol use may result when people are more easily able to access alcohol. Some people say that high service fees and delivery fees would likely do little to deter those who are living with an alcohol use disorder from ordering large deliveries to their home, eliminating the need to deal with face-to-face encounters with local cashiers at grocery stores and liquor stores.
What Do You Think?
It is true that there are high delivery and service fees for most of these services and that the time lag between ordering and delivery can be significant, which could be a deterrent for those who might order impulsively when they are already drunk. But it is also true that some may take advantage of the service and over-order – and over-imbibe – when they may not have otherwise done so. In addition, others who might feel uncomfortable sitting at a bar for hours on end or self-conscious about repeatedly buying large amounts of alcohol in person might feel safer about ordering alcohol from a delivery service.
What do you think? Is it absolutely fine and even expected that delivery services are adding alcohol to the menu and increasing the options for patrons? Or do you have concerns that increased access to alcohol will have a detrimental impact on communities or contribute to the ongoing substance use disorder problem that the country is facing?