Do Ride-Sharing Apps and Services Increase Alcohol Consumption?

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Drinking and driving is a non-starter. This dangerous practice puts the lives of drivers, passengers, and everyone else on the road at risk. With the advent of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, people have a cost-effective and convenient method of making their way home after a night of heavy drinking. These apps appear to be making our streets safer, but is there a catch?

The convenience of ride-hailing apps may promote a level of permissiveness in unhealthy drinking behaviors. Specifically, binge drinking.

The Link Between Ride-Sharing Apps and Binge Drinking

driver talking to rider
Young car driver asking businessman where to go

Until now, most research on ride-share services examined how these apps help reduce DWIs, accidents, and injuries or death. The evidence shows this increased supply of alternative transportation allows people to do less driving while under the influence. However, there is another unexpected and darker outcome. Ride-share apps make it easier for people to engage in binge drinking.

Binge drinking is a problematic and dangerous drinking behavior. Simply put, it’s drinking to get drunk. People who binge drink consume large quantities of alcohol in a short amount of time. For men, that’s usually five drinks or more in less than two hours. For women, a binge equates to four drinks or more in the same time period. Binge drinking can result in seriously high blood alcohol levels. If this behavior becomes habitual, it puts drinkers at high risk for alcohol addiction.

study published by the University of Michigan found that ride-hailing services may increase the likelihood of binge drinking behaviors. Ride-sharing apps promote safer drinking in the sense of giving people an alternative way to get home. But this may also mean that individuals, whether consciously or unconsciously, feel released to drink more alcohol. This is reflected in a four percent increase in binge drinking behaviors since the introduction of Uber to certain metro areas.

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Who Is Most at Risk?

While a four percent increase in binge drinking may not seem like much, it’s important to remember the key demographic of ride-sharing apps—college kids and young adults. Ride-hailing services are much more popular among people between the ages of 18 and 29.

Habitual heavy drinking during this influential time in a person’s life could solidify a drinking problem. And long-term effects aside, drinking large amounts in such a short amount of time puts young people at risk of alcohol poisoning, which can sometimes be fatal.

Binge drinking can also lead to other dangerous and negative consequences, such as:

  • Unintentional injury
  • Bad grades or poor work performance
  • Unprotected sex
  • Date rape
  • Violence
  • Destruction of property

Help for People Struggling With Binge Drinking

Ride-sharing apps are convenient and cost-effective, and may make it easier to get home when drunk. But that doesn’t mean excessive drinking is any less dangerous for your personal health, or that having one of these apps on your phone is a good excuse to binge drink.

That said, cutting back on alcohol isn’t always easy. If you find it’s a challenge to avoid drinking too much on a night out, a different app may be able to help. Ria Health gives you access to digital tracking tools, coaching, and even anti-craving medication—all from your smartphone.

Have questions about online alcohol treatment?

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Written By:
Ria Health Team
Ria Health’s editorial team is a group of experienced copywriters, researchers, and healthcare professionals dedicated to removing stigma and improving public knowledge around alcohol use disorder. Articles written by the “Ria Team” are collaborative works completed by several members of our writing team, fact-checked and edited to a high standard of empathy and accuracy.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Evan O’Donnell is an NYC-based content strategist with four years’ experience writing and editing in the recovery space. He has conducted research in sound, cognition, and community building, has a background in independent music marketing, and continues to work as a composer. Evan is a deep believer in fact-based, empathic communication—within business, arts, academia, or any space where words drive action or change lives.
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