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State-by-State Drinking — How Does Your State Rate?

state-by-state drinking

State-by-State Drinking — How Does Your State Rate?

Americans like their liquor. A lot. Oh, we don’t like it as much as say the folks in Belarus or Lithuania, who both drink about 1½ times as much as us. But we’re still 45th in the world. And that’s saying something. When the good folks at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) assessed our state-by-state drinking however, they learned something else still. And that something else might just surprise you.

But first the big picture:

Overall per capita alcohol consumption stayed relatively steady from 2017-2018. However 15 states did report an increase. On the other hand 27 states and the District of Columbia all reported decreases. Consumption in seven states remained the same. The largest overall increase was in the West (up 3.7%), while the largest decrease was in the South (down 1.3%).

Furthermore, the Healthy People 2020 guideline maintained that per capita annual alcohol consumption should ideally be no more than 2.1 gallons. That means per capita consumption would’ve needed to decrease by 5.5 percent each year over the next two years. With Covid unexpectedly slipping into the picture, it seems unlikely we achieved this goal. But we’ll let you know when we know.

Meantime, here’s the state-by-state drinking breakdown. See how your state rates below.

State-by-State Drinking

51. Utah

The big surprise here is that Utah residents drank any alcohol at all, not to mention that they consumed an average of 1.35 gallons a year. Sure that’s more than three times less than the No. 1 spot on this list, but they’re Mormons!

50. West Virginia

West Virginia may have one of the nation’s worst opioid problems, but its residents have their liquor well under control. In fact, the Mountaineer State consumes only 1.74 gallons of alcohol each year. That’s barely a ripple of ripple.

49. Arkansas

Arkansas is also low on the state-by-state drinking totem pole, with a paltry 1.78 gallons of alcohol a year. Now if they could only get their vaccine protocols in order…

48. Oklahoma

Oklahoma apparently only drinks 1.85 gallons a year. Surely that all must come when they’re cheering on the Sooners.

47. Georgia

Georgia may be the eighth-most populous state and the 11th largest consumer of alcohol (16.4 million gallons annually), but its rising number of residents makes their 1.9 gallon per person average one of the lowest in the land.

46. Kansas

Maybe the Sunflower State’s average of 1.92 gallons will go up now that grocery stores are no longer required to sell beer that only contains 3.2 percent alcohol. (Thanks Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Kaduk!)

45. Kentucky

Surprising that a bourbon-based state would rate a mere 1.95 gallons per year, but there you have it. Hardly rates even a Maker’s Mark though.

44. Alabama

What? 1.99 gallons per person per year? That’s not even the size of the Crimson Tide!

43. Ohio

Ohio is another state where opioids outdo alcohol by a significant degree. In this case, its residents drink a mere 2.03 gallons per year, the lowest amount of any state in the upper Midwest. If the Buckeye State would only do as well with pain pills.

42. Maryland

We doubt if Maryland’s 2.08 gallons per year is being consumed inside Baltimore. That leaves either the DC suburbs or the more rural regions to the west. One of the two is probably pretty drunk.

41. Virginia

Maybe it is the DC ‘burbs. How else to explain Virginia ranking so close to Maryland at a still rather reasonable 2.13 per?

40. Tennessee

Tennessee drinks 2.14 gallons a year, much of it presumably in Jack Daniels. (cite Yahoo Sports)

39. Indiana

Between drinking 2.15 gallons a year and repeatedly circling the Speedway, Hoosiers must be pretty spun out.

37. Nebraska

An average of 2.16 gallons of alcohol per year? You can drink that much in the time between two towns! What are Nebraskans doing the rest of the year?

37. South Carolina

How is South Carolina tied with Nebraska? It has 2½ times the population and less than half the size! Then again, the Palmetto State’s unemployment rate is nearly double. Its per capita GDP is about a third less too.

35. Mississippi

It would seem to us that simply crossing the Big Muddy would account for 2.17 gallons per year. Did we overestimate the legendary river or underestimate the effects of 2.17 gallons of liquor?

35. North Carolina

Another tie. This one makes a little more sense though. Still, we’d think all the Asheville microbreweries would easily account for the state’s 2.17 gallons a year average.

34. New York

A mere 2.21 gallons per may be a bit of a surprise, especially for a state with a giant city that never even goes to sleep. But New Yorkers are known for doing things, and you can’t get a whole lot done when you’re drunk!

33. Washington

Washington’s 2.22 gallon average seems just about right, especially when you consider the weather doldrums equal at least that much.

32. Arizona

Arizonans know that drinking in the hot sun is incredibly dangerous, that’s why the state sticks to a relatively moderate 2.25 gallons per year.

30. Texas

Texans may be big on boots and hats and boasting but they’re not such big drinkers. Not with a 2.26 gallon average.

30. New Mexico

New Mexico has a lot of open roads. Thankfully the state’s 2.26 gallon average means those roads aren’t being driven by drunks. Bravo!

29. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanians would presumably drink more than 2.34 gallons per year if the state’s Liquor Control Board didn’t make buying alcohol such a convoluted process. (thanks Yahoo Sports)

27. Michigan

A 2.36 gallon average seems low for a state steeped with colleges to the south, woods to the north and Detroit in its center.

27. New Jersey

New Jersey’s 2.36 gallon average is just a smidge above the national average (and two smidges above New York).

26. South Dakota

South Dakota’s 2.37 gallon annual average may be higher than half of the country, but we’re actually surprised it’s not much much higher.

24. Illinois

Surely this 2.39 gallon average is just for Chicago. Perhaps the rest of Illinois sat out this survey.

24. Iowa

Another state where an above average average comes as a surprise. In this case, it’s 2.39 gallons per year per person.

23. Connecticut

Connecticut’s 2.4 gallon average makes sense, especially when you consider the amount of suburban BBQs and dinner parties.

22. California

California being first in overall volume makes sense too, especially since it’s also first in overall population. Being 22nd in per capita drinking though seems low. Then again, Californians have all sorts of other ways to get their thrills.

21. Missouri

Missouri’s 2.51 gallons per is surely made mostly of Budweiser.

19. Louisiana

That New Orleans didn’t propel Louisiana to number one is surely no fault of the tourists along Bourbon Street. Still, a 2.55 gallon average is rather respectable — for problem drinkers.

19. Massachusetts

Massachusetts must owe its high 2.55 gallon average to its preponderance of colleges and universities. It can’t be because of the Berkshires.

18. Florida

One would think a party state would rank much higher than 18. Heck, Florida’s reported 2.61 gallon average wouldn’t even seem to cover Spring Break!

17. Rhode Island

Small state, large liquor habit. But a 2.63 gallon average is nowhere near as large as the rest of New England.

16. Hawaii

Hawaii’s 2.66 gallon average is really just the average size of its cocktails.

15. Oregon

Craft beer and free thinking equals easy drinking. So it’s easy to see how Oregonians drink 2.74 gallons each year.

14. Wyoming

Wyoming may have the country’s lowest total overall alcohol volume with just 1.3 millions gallons, but its 2.78 gallon per person average puts it right up there with the rest of the big drinking states.

13. Minnesota

Guess alcohol really does warm up a person. How else to explain Minnesota’s 2.79 gallon a year average?

11. Maine

Maine’s no stranger to cold weather either, hence a 2.85 gallon a year average.

11. Alaska

Alaskans would do well in Maine (and vice versa). At least if their 2.85 gallon a year average is any indication.

10. Colorado

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain High seems to be made of 10 parts liquor, because its 2.88 gallon per capita average places the state right in the Top 10.

9. Wisconsin

Yahoo!Sports thought Wisconsin would be Number One. Frankly so did we. But we’ll both have to settle for a ninth-ranking 2.93 gallon a year average.

8. Idaho

We didn’t know much about Idaho. Now we do. (2.94 gallons per capita.)

7. Vermont

Another New England success story. If you can call ranking eighth in alcohol consumption to be a success. (3.06 gallons each year.)

6. Montana

Montana’s per capita alcohol average is the same as the amount of gas it takes to get from one town to the next. Go figure. (3.1 gallons a year.)

5. North Dakota

See above. (3.16 gallons per capita each year.)

4. Nevada

Nevada’s 3.42 gallon average is surely limited to Las Vegas. Wait. Are there other cities in Nevada?

3. Delaware

Delawareans drinking 3.52 gallons a year surely must mean something. We just have no idea what.

2. Washington D.C.

Do we really have to tell you why D.C. ranks second on this list with 3.77 gallons each year? (Yahoo Sports)

1. New Hampshire

New Hampshire doesn’t just top the state-by-state drinking list; the state tops it by almost a whole gallon! Yes, we realize New Englanders like to drink. But 4.67 gallons a year?!?!


Healing Properties would like to thanks the great good folks at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) for putting together such an edifying report. Once again, they’ve outdone themselves. We’d also like to thank Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo Sports for tipping us off to the survey in the first place. He also has some rather keen quips (which is why we swiped a few), so head on over and see for yourself.

How about you? How do you rate? Are you on par with your state? Looking to fix that? Help is out there you know. Just a phone call away. So, if you do need an assist, please pick up the phone and call. It just may save your life.

(Image Wikimedia Commons)

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