The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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Source: Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

10. Cleveland, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 41.0%
> Est. number of bars: 4
> Median household income: $42,380

Cleveland is one of several relatively poor Tennessee metro areas where the rate of excessive alcohol consumption is nearly the lowest in the country. The typical Cleveland household earns just $42,380 a year, less than the $55,775 national median income. People need to be able to afford alcohol in order to drink and low incomes may partially explain why only 12.2% of adults in Cleveland drink excessively, a small share compared to the 18.0% national figure.

One factor affecting alcohol consumption in Cleveland may be the area’s strict alcohol laws. While bars and restaurants are permitted to sell liquor by the drink in Cleveland, sale of packaged liquor is prohibited in the city.

Source: Roland Klose / Wikimedia Commons

9. Pine Bluff, AR
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 34.8%
> Est. number of bars: 1
> Median household income: $36,538

Only 12.2% of adults in the Pine Bluff metro area drink excessively, one of the smallest shares of any U.S. metro. The prevalence of excessive drinking tends to increase with access, and for many Pine Bluff residents drinking is unaffordable. The typical area household earns only $36,538 a year, one of the lowest median incomes of any U.S. metro area and nearly $20,000 below the nationwide median income of $55,775. Pine Bluff residents also lack the access to drinking establishments. On a per capita basis, the concentration of bars in the metro area is nearly the lowest of any U.S. metro area.

Source: Thinkstock

8. Parkersburg-Vienna, WV
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 30.6%
> Est. number of bars: 21
> Median household income: $40,547

Only 12.2% of adults in the Parkersburg-Vienna metro area drink excessively, one of the smallest shares of U.S. metros and the third smallest share of West Virginia metros. Apart from a relatively low excessive drinking rate, Parkersburg-Vienna adults tend to report less healthy behaviors. The area’s smoking rate of 24.8% is the highest of any metro area in the United States. Adults in the area also struggle with weight issues, as 36% of adults are obese, well above the 28% national obesity rate. Partially as a result, more than one in five metro area resident are in fair or poor health, well above the 15% share of American adults.

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7. Morristown, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 11.9%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 26.4%
> Est. number of bars: N/A
> Median household income: $40,041

Excessive drinking is more common in wealthy households and many residents may not be able to afford to drink every day in Morristown, where the median household income is just $40,041 a year and nearly 18% of residents live in poverty. Just 11.9% of Morristown adults drink excessively, nearly the smallest share among U.S. metro areas.

While Morristown adults largely abstain from heavy and binge drinking, residents in the area engage in other dangerous and unhealthy behaviors. Every year, approximately 430 in every 100,000 residents die from injury– one of the highest injury death rates in the country. The leading cause of injury death is drug overdose.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Logan, UT-ID
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 11.6%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 16.7%
> Est. number of bars: 1
> Median household income: $51,555

Just 11.6% of adults in the Logan metro area drink excessively, the sixth smallest share nationwide. While residents of many of the driest U.S. cities are relatively poor and likely abstain from excessive alcohol use for financial reasons, Logan is only slightly less wealthy than the country as a whole.

One factor behind Logan’s relatively low alcohol consumption rate may be the city’s large religious population. Roughly 87% of Logan residents belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion in which the consumption of alcohol and tobacco are forbidden. Just 8.6% of Logan adults smoke, the third smallest share of U.S. metro areas.