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Alcohol is a staple of culture, Eastern and Western. Whether you engage in drinking or not, it is no secret that it is a part of nearly every celebration, holiday, sporting event, and college campus among numerous other venues and scenarios. Drinking is often served during social gatherings and in places such as bars and clubs because it often helps people feel more relaxed and socially confident (West Virginia University). It also serves as a great stress reliever, as alcohol has been known to help ease physical and emotional pain. However, this begs the question: how much are we drinking? What are we drinking now? How much is America drinking compared to other countries? How much is America drinking state to state? Statistics can help us learn how much we put away in the drinking department.
As Americans, we put in 7.74 billions of gallons of alcohol per year in 2015 (Dollar Shave Club). That’s 6.88 billion six packs of beer or 39 billion bottles of wine. In fact, unlike the rest of the world, the United States has seen an increase in drinking within the past few years (Market Watch). This has been attributed to the rise of microbreweries and craft beer becoming a fad. This makes sense due to the fact that beer is the alcohol of choice for men, and men end up being bigger drinkers than women (Gallup). Until the age demographic of 65, beer is definitely the drink of choice for men to get hammered, with the heaviest majority being in the 18-29 age set (69%). Women in the 18-29 age bracket normally prefer liquor, but as they get older, their drink of choice shifts over to wine. It’s also important to note that while wine is not normally the preferred drink for men, as men get older, the percentage who do prefer wine begins to grow (I suppose it is an acquired taste).
So, how much do Americans drink within a week? The rate of consumption actually differs wildly (Slate). Thirty percent of people actually proclaim that they fully abstain from alcohol, and another thirty percent only drink on special occasions (their drinking ranges from .02 to .63 drinks per week). The other forty percent can put away between 2.17 and 73.85 drinks per week on average. Drinking also differs by state. The Northeast dominates the rest of the US in regard to drinking with most of them reporting 60-64 percent drinking within the past month (Washington Post). The only one not between 60-64 percent is Massachusetts, who comes in at a hardy 55-60 percent. The highest drinking state is New Hampshire, whose rate is 64% (I suppose it’s something to do during the long winters). The biggest abstainer is Utah, in which only 31% of Utah citizens pouring themselves a drink within the past month. Some of the other low-drinking tier states are southern states such as Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. This might be due to the religious influence in these states. Mormonism, which is quite prominent in Utah, bars the use of drugs or alcohol. The aforementioned southern states also have a high population of Evangelical Christians who also more often choose to abstain.
As Americans, we are partying more than ever, but that doesn’t mean that we’re the top drinkers of the world. In fact, as of this year, we don’t even make the top 25 (World Atlas). The biggest drinking medal actually goes to Estonia with 14.97 liters of alcohol consumed per capita. It’s safe to say, however, that alcohol remains a staple of America.