The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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15. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.7%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 19.8%
> Est. number of bars: 10
> Median household income: $41,206

Only 11.2% of adults in Tennessee drink excessively, the smallest share of any state in the country. While excessive drinking is slightly more common in Kingsport, the 12.7% of metro area adults who drink excessively is one of the smallest shares of all major U.S. metro areas.

Binge drinking is associated with higher rates of sexually transmitted disease. In Kingsport, the rate of chlamydia diagnosis of 210 for every 100,000 people is one of the lowest of any metro area and well below the 456 diagnoses per 100,000 national rate.

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14. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.6%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 26.5%
> Est. number of bars: 58
> Median household income: $42,237

Just 12.6% of adults in the Huntington-Ashland metro area drink excessively, one of the smallest shares of any city nationwide. The prevalence of binge drinking decreases with income, and the typical Huntington household earns just $42,237 a year — among the least of any U.S. city.

Young people are more likely to binge drink than their older counterparts and binge drinking is by far the most common form of excessive drinking. A low excessive drinking rate in the Huntington-Ashland metro area may be attributable to the age of the population. The median age in the metro area is 40.9 years, considerably higher than the national median age of 37.8 years.

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13. Gadsden, AL
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.4%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 31.5%
> Est. number of bars: 7
> Median household income: $43,346

Men who average more than two drinks per day and women who average more than one are considered excessive drinkers. While 18.0% of American adults nationwide drink excessively, just 12.4% of Gadsden adults have heavy or binge drinking habits. Poorer individuals are less likely to drink excessively than wealthier Americans, and the typical Gadsden household earns just $43,346 a year — approximately $11,000 less than the U.S. median income of $55,775.

Low demand for alcohol has likely resulted in a limited number of nightlife establishments in Gadsden. The Census counts just seven bars in the Gadsden metro area, equal to only 0.7 bars for every 10,000 residents, one of the smaller rations of any city when adjusted for population.

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12. Knoxville, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.3%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 28.9%
> Est. number of bars: 52
> Median household income: $48,382

Knoxville is one of several cities in Tennessee with a large, relatively sober population. Just 12.3% of metro area residents drink excessively, less than the 18.0% national share and among the least of any city nationwide. People living in low income households are less likely to engage in heavy or binge drinking, and the typical household in Knoxville earns just $48,382 annually — roughly $7,000 less than the national median household income.

Knoxville residents also have relatively limited access to alcohol. Sales of packaged liquor in Knoxville are not permitted on Sundays or between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. on other days.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

11. Johnson City, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.3%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 31.7%
> Est. number of bars: 7
> Median household income: $40,388

Men who average more than two drinks per day and women who average more than one are considered excessive drinkers. Just 12.3% of Johnson City adults drink excessively, one of the smaller shares nationwide. Poor individuals are less likely to engage in heavy or binge drinking, and more than one in five Johnson City residents live in poverty, a far greater share than the 14.7% national poverty rate.

The small share of heavy drinkers in Johnson City may not create enough demand for an active nightlife in the metro area. The Census counts just seven bars in Johnson City, equal to only about 0.3 for every 10,000 residents, one of the lowest rations of any metro area when adjusted for population.