These 20 States Consume the Most Alcohol in America
January 17, 2019
The United States of Alcohol
America likes to drink. In fact, recent research shows that each one of us drinks the equivalent of 2.35 gallons of pure alcohol on average over the course of a year. In layman’s terms, that’s worth around 500 beers (assuming 12 ounces at 5 percent alcohol by volume) over 365 days — one and a quarter light beers per day, or nine and a half per weekend. (That half beer must be the one we left unfinished on the counter after we ate pizza and went to bed.) Individual intake will vary case by case, of course, and while we’re not the booziest country on the globe, some states are certainly more prone to indulge than others.
The following is based on a study by the National Institutes of Health, whose researchers analyzed data from 2016 regarding the alcohol consumption of each state based on population ages 14 and older. Yeah, we’re just as confused about that age limit as you are, considering the legal drinking age throughout the United States is 21. On the other hand, who wasn’t sneaking into their parents’ secret stash as a kid?
“Although age 14 is below the minimum legal age for the purchase of alcoholic beverages throughout the United States, most self-report surveys indicate that many people drink alcoholic beverages at age 14,” the study reads. Hey, at least they’re honest.
We’ve included data measured in two different ways, the first being ethanol consumption. This conveys how many thousands of gallons each state has drunk as a collective. The second is per capita, which shows how many gallons of ethanol each person in a specific state is responsible for consuming on average. Ethanol is 100 percent alcohol. Real hardcore. You know, the type of stuff you shouldn’t light a match around.
For further context, one “standard drink” in the U.S. contains 0.6 fluid ounces of ethanol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. If the “per capita” for a certain state is 2.1 gallons of ethanol, that means the average person would have drunk 448 standard drinks in one year or 1.2 per day. Thirsty yet? Fill up your cup (or don’t) and read on to find which 20 states consume the most alcohol in America.
#20 Rhode Island
We love to root for an underdog, and our nation’s teeniest state also happens to be one of our booziest. There are 1 million people who live in Rhode Island, and they’re responsible for guzzling 2.3 million gallons of ethanol in one year. That’s 2.565 gallons per person over age 14.
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Massachusetts is home to 6.82 million people who are recorded as having had 14.8 million gallons of ethanol in one year. That’s 2.568 gallons per person over 14 in the Bay State, just edging out neighbor Rhode Island.
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Sunny skies + golf courses + theme parks + Miami = a no-brainer. Florida practically wrote the book on boozing. The Sunshine State’s population of 20.66 million is credited for consuming 46.2 million gallons of ethanol in one year. That’s 2.65 gallons per person over 14 (which may or may not include our innocent Publix-loving parents and grandparents).
Wyoming may come last alphabetically, but it doesn’t falter on this list. The Equality State’s teensy population of 584,910 tossed back 1.2 million gallons of ethanol in one year. That’s about 2.67 gallons per person over.
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Oregon’s 4 million people are recorded as having drunk 9.4 million gallons of ethanol in one year, which boils down to about 2.75 gallons per person over age 14.
Sorry, did you say “Minnesota“ or “vodka soda”? The North Star State’s 5.25 million residents consumed 12.5 milllion gallons of ethanol in one year, which means each person over 14 sucked down 2.77 gallons each.
#11 South Dakota
Jeez, South Dakota. Save some for the rest of us! An estimated 861,500 inhabitants racked up an impressive 2 million gallons of ethanol consumed in just one year. That’s 2.87 gallons per person over 14.
Idaho isn’t all potatoes, you know. Of the 1.68 million people living there, some fraction is responsible for the 3.9 million gallons of ethanol consumed. Per person over 14, that adds up to approximately 2.92 gallons each.
Alaska hits the bottle pretty hard, but can you blame them? What else are you supposed to do to pass 30 days of night on the Last Frontier? The 741,500 people in this snowy state are recorded as having consumed 1.7 milllion gallons of ethanol in one year. That’s 2.94 gallons per person over 14.
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When Steven Hyde yelled out “I love Wisconsin!” at the end of the “That ‘70s Show” theme song, he may or may not have been drunk, because according to science, all leads point to the former. Data shows that the Badger State’s 5.77 million residents took in 14.3 million gallons of ethanol in one year, which means each person over 14 is allotted 2.98 gallons.
In Montana, the mountains are gorgeous, the rolling meadows are filled with happy cows and the people are getting turnt. It’s recorded that an estimated 2.7 million gallons of ethanol were consumed by the state’s population of just over a million. That’s 3.11 gallons per person over 14.
#5 North Dakota
North Dakotans seem to keep things pretty quiet, but little did you know, a chunk of its 755,548 inhabitants are at the pub getting gassed. In just one year, they consumed 2 million gallons of ethanol statewide, which equates to 3.26 gallons per person over 14.
This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering Nevada is home to one of the country’s biggest party destinations. Viva Las Vegas! An estimated 2.9 million Silver State residents drank 8.4 million gallons of ethanol in one year. That’s 3.46 gallons designated for each person over 14.
The second smallest state does booze pretty big. Delaware’s 952,698 residents are recorded as having drunk 3 million gallons of ethanol in one year altogether, which amounts to 3.72 gallons per person over 14.
#2 Washington, D.C.
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Our nation’s capital is as lit as the torch held by Lady Liberty. Washington, D.C., has nearly 684,336 residents, many of whom apparently aren’t afraid to throw ‘em back. Data shows inhabitants consume 2.2 million gallons of ethanol per year as a collective, or 3.85 gallons per person over age 14. What’s driving D.C. to drink? We have a few theories.
#1 New Hampshire
Who cares if it’s the fifth smallest state? New Hampshire knows how to hang! Or should we call it New Hammered? The 1.33 million people here drink more per person than in any other state. Collectively, Granite Staters pounded 5.4 million gallons of ethanol in 2016. That’s 4.76 gallons per person over 14, which is more than twice the national average (2.35) and more than any other state. It could have something to do with the fact that there’s no tax on alcohol here — or maybe everyone’s just parched. As a matter of fact, so are we. Save us a seat at the best bar in your state, will ya?
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