The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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5. Fargo, ND-MN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 25.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 38.0%
> Est. number of bars: 74
> Median household income: $56,051

Fargo has the fifth highest share of adults reporting excessive drinking among all U.S. metro areas. The metro also has the highest excessive drinking rate outside of metros in Wisconsin. Slightly more than one in four metro area adults report either drinking heavily or binge drinking in the last 30 days.

As is the case in many of the heaviest drinking cities, a disproportionate share of the Fargo population is enrolled in a higher education institution. Some 12.9% of the metro area’s 234,000 residents are either in college or graduate school, well above the 7.0% national share.

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4. Madison, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 25.9%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 38.0%
> Est. number of bars: 216
> Median household income: $64,174

While not the heaviest drinking metro area in Wisconsin, the state capital comes close. The Madison metro area is one of only five in the United States where more than one in every four adults drinks excessively.

Excessive drinking is never healthy, and despite any negative toll heavy drinking is taking on the Madison population, people in the city tend to be relatively healthy on the whole. Only 11.5% of metro area adults report being in fair or poor health, one of the smallest shares of any U.S. metro area and well below the 15.0% national share.

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3. Appleton, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 26.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 25.7%
> Est. number of bars: 108
> Median household income: $61,245

Some 26.2% of Appleton residents drink excessively, the third highest share of U.S. metro areas According to the CDC, binge drinking is more common in households earning $75,000 or more a year. A greater than typical share of Appleton residents are likely earning as much as the metro area’s median household income is $61,245 a year, well above the national median income of $55,775. Additionally, poorer individuals are less likely to drink excessively, and Appleton’s poverty rate of 9.4% is one of the smallest rates of any metro area and well below the 14.7% national poverty rate.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

2. Eau Claire, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 26.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 38.9%
> Est. number of bars: 98
> Median household income: $52,094

The excessive adult drinking rate in Eau Claire is the second highest among U.S. metro areas, with 26.2% of the adult population reporting drinking excessively in the last 30 days. There are about 5.9 bars in the metro area per 10,000 residents, the second highest concentration of any U.S. metro area.

On an individual level, excessive drinking can have a number of health consequences, none of which are good. Still, adults in Eau Claire tend to be relatively healthy. Only 13.2% of metro area adults report being in fair or poor health, a smaller share than the 15.0% of American adults.

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1. Green Bay, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 26.5%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 50.5%
> Est. number of bars: 138
> Median household income: $54,847

The excessive drinking rate among adults in Green Bay is the highest of any metro area in the country. Nearly 27% of adults report they heavy or binge drinking in the last 30 days, well above the 18% excessive drinking rate nationwide.

According to the CDC, binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than those who do not binge drink. The Green Bay metro area is one of only five nationwide where over half of all deadly car accidents involve alcohol. In comparison, 30% of driving deaths nationwide involve alcohol.