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Monday, March 27, 2023

Drew Vagg: AfterPay, alcohol delivery services enable addiction

In recent days Cancer Council WA and the organisation where I work, Hope Community Services, has shone a light on a growing problem within our already problematic drinking culture.

Alcohol home delivery companies were in their infancy a few years ago but have become engrained in our drinking culture since COVID emerged. Running out of booze at a party is no longer a problem — any number of companies can deliver alcohol right to your doorstep in under an hour.

The WA Government did try to keep up. In February last year they introduced new regulations to limit the hours of alcohol delivery, mandate ID checks for same day and rapid deliveries, and ensure no alcohol was delivered to an intoxicated person. Delivery drivers were required to complete Responsible Service of Alcohol training.

Good intentions. But as a Deakin University survey commissioned by the Cancer Council WA demonstrated, this is not happening in practice.

Nearly 25 per cent of survey participants have had alcohol delivered to them while were intoxicated, and half of those who used same day or rapid delivery options did not have their ID checked. Alcohol deliveries continue to be left unattended at the door.

Drew Vagg is a Peer Support Specialist with Hope Community Services.
Camera IconDrew Vagg is a Peer Support Specialist with Hope Community Services. Credit: Supplied

As someone who has previously experienced problems with alcohol, I see these alcohol delivery companies as nothing more than services to assist people in making poor and impulsive decisions.

When you are talking about rapid delivery of alcohol, so often you are essentially delivering alcohol to people whose decision making is already impaired because they are already drinking. They can’t make good decisions — when you’re drinking, drinking more always seems like a good idea.

When it comes to people who have a genuine problem around alcohol, the research shows they more likely to rapid or same day delivery options, order higher volumes of alcohol and to place and receive order while intoxicated. Armed with this knowledge, the facilitation that these companies offer to vulnerable people appears quite obscene.

Additionally, the fact that you can now use AfterPay to buy alcohol from these companies is appalling. It feels like asking a dealer for drugs on tick. In my experience, no person asking a dealer for something on tick was ever in any position to pay it back.

And, of course, once you have used one of these companies, you’ll be subject to endless push notifications and email marketing. You get bombarded with reels and videos and recipes for cocktails in your inbox and your feeds. I’ve tried to stop this happening to me. I’ve clicked the link to say this doesn’t interest me, that this is a sensitive topic. It makes no difference.

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