The Drunkest City in Each State

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Auburn Campus, Alabama
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1. Alabama
> Drunkest city: Auburn-Opelika
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 16.2%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 13.3%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 28.1%

More than 16% of adults in the Auburn-Opelika metro area report heavy drinking or binge drinking — defined as at least five drinks for men and four drinks for women on a single occasion — in the past 30 days, according to the CDC.

While Auburn’s excessive drinking rate is the highest of any of the state’s dozen metro areas, it is relatively low when compared to other metro areas in the country. Nationwide, 18% of American adults report binge or heavy drinking in the last month.

Fairbanks, Alaska northern lights
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2. Alaska
> Drunkest city: Fairbanks
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 23.0%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 21.7%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 36.7%

People with higher incomes are more likely to drink to excess than those with lower incomes. In Alaska, the typical household earns $73,355 a year, about $17,000 more than the typical American household. Not surprisingly, more than one in five adults in the state identify as excessive drinkers, compared to 18% of American adults.

Binge and heavy drinking in Alaska is somewhat concentrated in the state’s two main metro areas, Anchorage and Fairbanks. At 22.9% and 23.0% respectively, both metro areas have even higher excessive drinking rates than the state a whole.

Flagstaff, Arizona
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3. Arizona
> Drunkest city: Flagstaff
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 19.2%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 16.6%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 24.9%

In the Flagstaff metro area, 19.2% of adults report unhealthy drinking habits, the highest share of any metro area in Arizona. Unhealthy behavior in the metro area does not stop with alcohol. Roughly one in five area adults identify as smokers, a larger rate than both the national and state smoking rates of 17.0% and 16.5% respectively.

Bad habits may be putting Flagstaff residents at greater risk of early death. In the Flagstaff metro area, just 324 out of every 100,000 residents die before the age of 75 due to preventable causes, compared to the national premature death rate of 474 per 100,000.

Fayetteville, Arkansas suburbs
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4. Arkansas
> Drunkest city: Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 16.0%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 14.3%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 35.2%

Adults in Arkansas are among the least likely in the country to report unhealthy drinking habits. Even in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro, the area with the largest share of excessive drinkers in the state, only 16% of adults are heavy or binge drinkers, slightly lower than national 18% excessive drinking rate.

People with higher incomes are statistically more likely to drink excessively than people with lower incomes, and Fayetteville is an apt example of the pattern. The median income in Fayetteville of $50,788 a year is roughly $8,800 more than the median annual income statewide.

San Luis Obispo, California
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5. California
> Drunkest city: San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 20.1%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 17.2%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 32.3%

Roughly one in five adults in the San Luis Obispo metro area report drinking to excess in the past month. While the potential health consequences associated with alcohol consumption are well established, metro area residents tend to be relatively healthy. Only 13.1% of area adults report being below optimal health, far less than the 18.1% statewide share and the 14.0% national share.

Still, high alcohol consumption may be taking its toll on metro area residents in other ways. Across the San Luis Obispo metro area, 32.3% of roadway fatalities involve alcohol, a larger share than both the state and nationwide figures.