Depending who you are, where you are, what you are and perhaps most importantly, how you grew up, you might be surprised to learn Tennessee only ranks 40th when it comes to the amount of alcohol consumed.
Tennessee, being the home of Jack Daniels, has a reputation as a state with people who can really put it away. But a website called safehome.org did a study and found while we’re not teetotalers, a lot of us don’t really appear all that enamored of alcohol.
Among the findings:
• No. 45 in percentage of adults who drink, 47.16%.
• No. 48 in percentage of adults who binge-drink, 22%.
• No. 4 in change in percentage of adults who drink, 2008-2017, +6.7%.
• No. 42 in alcohol consumption per person, 2.11 gallons
• No. 37 in per-capita craft breweries, 1.9 per 100,000
These are yearly numbers. They’re not claiming any of us are drinking 2.11 gallons of alcohol a day, or even week, though we probably all know somebody we’ve been suspicious of at times.
While being 45th out of 50 states for the total number of people who drink isn’t bad, still nearly half of us drink, a total that went up nearly 7% over a decade.
Is that good or bad? Once again, depending on who you are, it is either very good (a drink never hurt anybody) or very bad (drinking destroys families!). I’ve never drank alcohol, but there was a lot around when I grew up, mainly in the form of beer. But I realize there are people who can have a few drinks and function fully fine the next day.
Of course, there are also those who have one drink and come back to life two days later three states away, trying to remember their name.
How’d other states fare? Well:
The 10 heaviest drinking states are the District of Columbia, Vermont, South Dakota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska and Colorado.
The 10 lightest drinking states are Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Utah, Hawaii, North Carolina, Kentucky and West Virginia.
New Mexico has the highest alcohol-related death rate, 31.5 per 100,000 people.
Wyoming has the highest alcohol-related arrest rate, 1,418.7 per 100,000 people.
The District of Columbia is Washington D.C., so it’s understandable they’d be number one on the drinking list.
The rest of those states are a weird hodgepodge of the midwest, northeastern states and, for some reason, Colorado.
Seven of the 10 lightest drinking states are southern states which, once again, is both surprising and not really all that unexpected. If popular culture has taught us anything, it’s that the south is full of drunks. And that’s true in some ways. We all know drunks. You can see them wandering the streets if you’re looking at the right time.
But it’s also the home of southern Baptists, strait laced conservatives and all kinds of people who worry about what other think of them.
Wyoming having the most people arrested is a little baffling as I’m pretty sure only about 50 people live there. Maybe 11 ½ months of winter every year makes them heavy drinkers.
New Mexico having 31 out of every 1,000 people die due to alcohol abuse should probably be addressed in that state, if it isn’t already.
Across the country, more than half of us (56%) drink on a regular basis. But that’s a lot less than it used to be. According to the study our “puritanical” ancestors drank quite a bit more than we do today — to the tune of about 5.8 gallons per person per year; that compares with just 2.3 gallons per person on average in modern America.
So, no matter what you think, drinking isn’t as bad as it used to be. Or maybe everybody fibbed just a little.
If you’re interested, the website for the study is https://www.safehome.org/drunkest-americans. Some interesting stuff on it.