What are the Most Alcoholic States in the U.S.? [Ranked]

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Drinking alcohol is a common part of any festivities; where there are social events and family gatherings, you can always expect wine and beer consumption. That said, some states like to party more than others, and this is reflected in their alcohol sales.

Here, we rank the most alcoholic states in the U.S. based on their consumption per capita.

Collective data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the Drug Helpline, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reveal the states that topped the list of the highest ethanol (pure alcohol), beer, and wine consumers in the U.S.

Top 10 States with the Highest Alcohol Consumption

There are two distinct categories in ranking the highest alcohol consumers in the country. First is the overall gallon consumption per year, and second is the gallon of ethanol per capita consumption, which tells us the average amount of ethanol people in the location consume daily.

Gallons Overall

1. California (85.7 million): The most populous state in the U.S. also leads the country in terms of alcohol consumption. Its purchase is widely available in shops even in grocery stores. Public drinking is also allowed as long as you’re not bothering other people.

2. Texas (56.9 million): In a study by FindRecovery.com, Texas has the highest rates of alcoholism, linked to the widespread lack of health insurance among locals. The state also has the third-highest number of residents who lacked formal schooling, which could have contributed to minimal supervision and guidance in terms of alcohol consumption.

3. Florida (50.4 million): About 58% of Florida residents drink alcohol. Its reputation as a vacation and party destination with beaches hosting spring break celebrations contributes to its high alcohol consumption.

4. New York (36 million): Despite its prolific nightlife, New York has very strict laws against alcohol use. In general, drinking in public is prohibited, with few exceptions on events that allow it.

5. Illinois (25.3 million): Drinking alcohol is legal in Illinois, but public drinking is still seen as an irresponsible behavior by many locals, which has affected people’s perception of drinking, and by extension its consumption rate. Still, it remains a part of what the public calls a ‘binge-drinking belt’ of Midwestern states. This means about 20% binge drinking rate throughout the state or one in five residents.

6. Pennsylvania (25 million): This state is home to Pittsburgh, which was named 2023’s Best Beer City in the U.S. The state has up to 60 different unique breweries, contributing to wide alcohol production.

7. Michigan (21 million): Michigan is among the states with the heaviest drinkers in 2020. It also has many micro-distilleries, wineries, and craft breweries that continue to increase in numbers as the years go by. Despite its high production, its strict distribution and price controls rules might have made consumption unattractive for many casual drinkers.

8. Ohio (20.6 million): This state’s stringent laws on alcohol use aren’t enough to keep the public from consuming it often. Along with its wide availability, Ohio is also known as a central pipeline for drug trades, a factor that comes convenient in alcohol distribution.

9. North Carolina (20.4 million): North Carolina’s bootlegging opportunities have contributed to the prolific distribution of wine and spirits, allowing locals easy access to their favorite drinks.

10. New Jersey (19.4 million): Drinking alcohol is deeply embedded in the lifestyle of New Jersey locals, so while taxes are costly, consumption remains high.

Gallons of Ethanol Per Capita

1. New Hampshire – 4.83

2. Delaware – 4.01

3. Washington D.C. – 3.79

4. Nevada – 3.43

5. Montana – 3.32

6. North Dakota – 3.26

7. Vermont – 3.22

8. Wisconsin – 3.11

9. Maine – 2.99

10. Colorado – 2.97

Most Popular Alcoholic Beverages in the U.S.

Of the different types of alcoholic beverages, all three major types emerge as America’s favorite, as confirmed by their popularity and consumption.

Beer

Beer is a type of undistilled alcohol, which is among the most consumed drinks in the world, alongside water and tea. In 2022, Statista reported an average consumption of 2.82 million 2.85-gallon cases in the country. Beer also holds 41.9% of the total alcohol market share in the U.S.

Wine

Wine is another undistilled alcohol with classic red, white, and sparkling variations. A report from the Wine Institute reveals the average U.S. citizen consumes 2.86 gallons per person a year.

Spirits

As of 2022, spirits have officially surpassed beer in terms of market share in the U.S., taking on 42.1% of the total industry sales. Spirits are distilled types of alcohol that come in fancy variations and are staple drinks on most occasions. Popular types include vodka, gin, brandy, whiskey, and tequila.

States With the Most Number of Adults Who Drink Excessively

With alcohol’s wide availability comes the tendency for excessive drinking. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 1 in 4 American adults is reported to engage in binge drinking.

Breaking down the demographics of their findings reveals these five states that have the most number of adults exposed to heavy drinking and binge-alcoholic behavior.

1. North Dakota – 24.7%

2. Wisconsin – 24.5%

3. Alaska – 22.1%

4. Montana – 21.8%

5. Illinois – 21.2%

Effects of Excessive Alcohol Consumption on Your Health

Considering the amount of alcohol consumed across different states, it’s important to understand the health risks associated with excessive alcohol use.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports three million deaths a year as a result of harmful alcohol use. This represents 5.3% of all deaths globally. Risks come in various forms, but these are the most common issues:

  • Liver Cirrhosis: The final phase of alcoholic liver disease, which is the result of prolonged, recurring swelling and inflammation of the liver as it filters alcohol.
  • Impaired Judgment: Alcohol consumption impacts mood and cognition, which can result in the inability to assess harm from safety, right from wrong, etc.
  • Slowed Reaction Times: As a depressant, alcohol slows down your nerve function, thought process, and motor coordination.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: Alcohol consumption affects your brain chemistry, making it hard to focus.
  • Heart Disease: Excessive drinking has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke, or heart failure. Developing alcohol addiction also increases the likelihood of heart disease.

Heavy drinking also leads to alcohol dependency, which makes it even more challenging to stay sober for a lengthy period.

Final Thoughts

Alcohol consumption varies by state, and it mirrors several factors like culture, tradition, learned habits, and state regulations.

California, for instance, leads our list because of easy access to alcohol and weak control policies. New Jersey’s increase in alcohol excise taxes, on the other hand, may have contributed to consumers limiting their purchases to fit their budget.

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