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Study links ride-sharing services to rise in binge drinking

Photo: IvanZivkovic/iStockphoto

Ann Arbor, MI — Although ride-sharing services may help reduce impaired driving, they’re also a possible reason for an increase in binge drinking, a study of more than 100 metropolitan areas suggests.

Researchers used Uber press releases to determine when the ride-sharing service began operating in 113 metropolitan areas. They compared the data with information about alcohol consumption and population density from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System’s annual survey.

After the ride-sharing service became available in the areas with higher population density, binge drinking rose 4%. Binge drinking is generally considered five or more drinks for men and at least four drinks for women in two hours, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions states.

“There’s fairly strong evidence that this expanded supply of transportation is allowing people to do less driving while drunk,” study co-author Jeffrey McCullough, an associate professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said in a press release. “But at the same time, we found that it is making it easier for people to engage in alcohol consumption, particularly binge drinking, which is the worst kind of drinking.”


The CDC says binge drinking can lead to many health problems, including:

  • Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and liver disease
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Alcohol use disorders

The study was published online Jan. 27 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

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