MA: As alcohol home delivery persists, public health officials worry about substance abuse

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

MA: As alcohol home delivery persists, public health officials worry about substance abuse

WGBH
By Kirk Carapezza
June 7, 2022

Home delivery of alcohol has skyrocketed in Massachusetts since the start of the pandemic, raising concerns about increases in substance abuse and minors’ alcohol consumption.

State alcohol regulators say home deliveries of beer, wine and liquor are up 300% since February 2020.

“At the height of the pandemic, it went dramatically through the roof,” said Ralph Sacramone, executive director of the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. “And you don’t see it retracting.”

Sacramone told GBH News the dramatic increase in home deliveries has him worried about the potential for abuse, especially among young people.

“We’re always concerned about public safety,” he said. “We want to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. That is our number one goal.”

To that end, the state trying to control home delivery sales, especially to minors, warning package stores about using outside companies that may be more concerned with making timely deliveries than checking IDs. Earlier this week, Sacramone met with owners and employees of liquor stores, bars, restaurants and clubs in Springfield, telling them “your license is on the line.”

Substance abuse experts say that with more people using alcohol at home, reports of problem drinking are on the rise.

Dr. Rachel Cox, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professionals, said she’s seeing a link between home delivery and substance abuse.

“There is a higher risk of danger for people who are drinking at home,” she said, noting home delivery makes alcohol more accessible. “I’ve definitely seen more patients self-reporting behaviors in terms of increased alcohol use.”

And Cox said in the future those reports are likely to lead to increased demand for substance abuse treatment.