Excessive drinking cost the United States $250 billion in 2010, according to a 2015 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study estimated lost productivity and added health care costs associated with alcohol consumption. States report different drinking habits, as do metropolitan areas within each state.
Binge drinking is defined by the CDC as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men during a single sitting. The organization defines heavy drinking as around 15 or more drinks consumed by men per week, and typically eight or more drinks for women. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the metropolitan areas (MSA) reporting the highest levels of binge and heavy drinking in each state. Dubuque leads Iowa and the nation, with 30.8% of adults reporting binge or heavy drinking in the metropolitan area. Salt Lake City, where 12.6% of adults report such a drinking habit, is the booziest city in Utah.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is associated with a range of health problems. One in 10 deaths among U.S. adults is due to excessive drinking, according to the CDC. Researchers at the organization have found that, “excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death.”
While the relationship between alcohol use and negative health outcomes is widely accepted, drinking is only one of the many factors that can affect the health of a population. For this reason, many of the cities with high rates of excessive alcohol consumption do not exhibit the negative consequences that might be expected to accompany binge and heavy drinking.
For example, only slightly more than half of the cities with the highest rates of alcohol consumption in each state report an above average number of years of life lost due to premature death. Of the 50 cities, 35 have higher than average shares of adults self-reporting as being in good health.
The data does support the expected relationship between alcohol use and another negative outcome, alcohol-related driving fatalities. Driving under the influence of alcohol has declined in recent years. In 2013, 10.9% of Americans reported driving after drinking alcohol at least once in the past year, down from 14.2% in 2002. While the trend is encouraging, cities with a higher incidence of excessive drinking nonetheless tend to have more alcohol-related driving fatalities. In 34 of the 50 metro areas reviewed, the share of alcohol-related driving deaths exceeded the national share of 31%.
In the metro areas with the highest heavy or binge drinking rate in a majority of states, however, alcohol-related driving fatalities were more likely. In 34 of the 50 metro areas reviewed, the share of alcohol-related driving deaths exceeded the national share of 31%.
To identify the drunkest city in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentage of men and women who report binge or heavy drinking in each state’s metro areas. Metro level data was aggregated from county level data provided by County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program. Health outcomes, including the number of potential life lost per 100,000 people due to premature death annually and the percentage of adults who report fair or poor health was also aggregated from county-level data obtained from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. All data are as of the most recent available year.
These are the drunkest cities in each state.
Correction: Due to a data processing error, El Paso, TX and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA were identified as the metro areas with the highest rate of excessive drinking in each state, reported at 56.2% and 23.8%, respectively. In fact, the El Paso metro area’s excessive drinking rate is 17.9%. Corpus Christi, TX is the city in Texas with the highest excessive drinking rate, at 27.5%. Napa is the city in California with the highest excessive drinking rate, at 23.7%.