Special Report

The Drunkest City in Each State

Automobile Alley Oklahoma City
Source: Wikimedia Commons

36. Oklahoma
> Drunkest city: Oklahoma City
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 14.2%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 13.5%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 30.6%

Just 13.5% of adults in Oklahoma report an excessive drinking habit, nearly the lowest share of all states. So in Oklahoma City, where excessive drinking is more common than anywhere else in the state, the 14.2% share of adults who are abusing alcohol actually trails most U.S. metro areas. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to physical harm, and lower levels of alcohol consumption in an area can help people reach favorable health outcomes. Oklahoma City reports a lower incidence of premature death than across the state. However, 427 lives are lost due to preventable causes per 100,000 people in Oklahoma City each year, higher than in most metro areas.

Corvallis, Oregon
Source: Thinkstock

37. Oregon
> Drunkest city: Corvallis
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 23.2%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 18.9%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 32.0%

Excessive drinking is more common in all eight metro areas in Oregon than it is across the country as a whole. In the Corvallis metro area, 23.2% of adults consume alcohol in excess, the highest share in the state.

While long-term excessive drinking can have some serious health consequences, it does not necessarily lead to poorer overall health. Despite the relative prevalence of binge and heavy drinking in Corvallis, people in the metro area are far more likely to lead full, healthy lives than the broader Oregon population. Each year, for every 100,000 Corvallis residents, 229 die before age 75 from preventable causes, a lower rate than the 309 per 100,000 statewide preventable death rate. In addition, people in Corvallis are more likely to report being in good overall health than residents statewide.

Penn State University, Old Main, State College, Pennsylvania
Source: Thinkstock

38. Pennsylvania
> Drunkest city: State College
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 20.2%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 17.7%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 28.4%

The share of adults in State College who drink in excess is the highest of any state metro area. As is generally the case, however, the excessive drinking — while not a healthy behavior — has not resulted in especially poor health outcomes in the city. Despite consuming more alcohol more frequently than across the state, State College residents report a lower incidence of premature death than statewide. Similarly, the 14% of adults who say they are in fair or poor health is also lower than the statewide percentage.

The healthier outcomes are likely because of the area’s higher educational attainment and financial well-being — two factors common among people who drink excessively that also tend to lead to better health. More than two in five adults in State College have a college degree, and the typical household earns $56,337 a year — each higher than the state figures.

Providence, Rhode Island
Source: Thinkstock

39. Rhode Island
> Drunkest city: Providence-Warwick
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 20.0%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 20.2%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 36.2%

As the only metro area in the state, Providence-Warwick’s excessive drinking rate is roughly in line with that of the state as a whole. Across Providence and Rhode Island, roughly one in five adults drink excessively, a slightly higher share than the 18% of American adults who either binge or heavily drink.

While it is not always the case, it appears that higher alcohol abuse rates in the Providence area and Rhode Island play an outsized role in fatal car accidents. Of roadway fatalities in Providence, 36.2% involve alcohol, and across Rhode Island 40.8% of traffic deaths involve alcohol — each far more than the 31% share nationwide.

Charleston, South Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

40. South Carolina
> Drunkest city: Charleston-North Charleston
> Pct. of MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 19.8%
> Pct. of state adults binge or heavy drinking: 15.5%
> Pct. of alcohol related driving deaths: 44.0%

Adults across South Carolina are less likely to abuse alcohol than adults nationwide, with 15.5% reporting heavy or binge drinking on a regular basis versus 18.0% nationwide. However, the percentage of driving fatalities that involve alcohol, at over 40%, is fourth highest compared with other states. Both excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related driving deaths are more prevalent in the Charleston metro area than across the state and nation. Nearly one in five area adults drinks excessively, and alcohol is involved in approximately 44% of driving fatalities in the area.

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