The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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5. Charleston, WV
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 11.1%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 28.7%
> Est. number of bars: 46
> Median household income: $42,526

Alcohol consumption is a luxury activity for many Americans and therefore is more prevalent in more affluent parts of the country. The typical household in the Charleston metro area earns just $42,526 annually, far less than the $55,775 national median. Only 11.1% of area adults drink excessively, a small share compared to the 18.0% national figure.

While many Charleston adults do not engage in excessive drinking, many also abstain from healthy activities that also often require money. Just 67% of the metro population has access to locations for physical activity like gyms and health clubs compared to 84% of Americans. Roughly 28% of Charleston adults do not exercise regularly, one of the larger shares nationwide.

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4. Jackson, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 10.9%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 30.7%
> Est. number of bars: 7
> Median household income: $46,553

Just 10.9% of adults in the Jackson metro area engage in either binge or heavy drinking, the fourth smallest share in the country.

While many adults in the metro area are healthier for not binge drinking, other unhealthy habits are relatively common in Jackson. For example, 21.4% of residents smoke, well above the 18.0% U.S. smoking rate. Additionally, only 65% of Jackson residents have access to locations for physical activity like gyms and health clubs, and only 71% of adults exercise regularly — each the smaller shares of all U.S. metro areas.

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3. Beckley, WV
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 10.8%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 27.9%
> Est. number of bars: 20
> Median household income: $37,101

Alcohol consumption is more prevalent in the most affluent parts of the country, where residents have more disposable income and greater access to alcohol through bars and restaurants. Many residents may not be able to afford such luxury goods in the Beckley metro area, the typical household earns only $37,101 a year, one of the lowest median household incomes of all U.S. metro areas. Just 10.8% of adults in Beckley drink excessively, the third smallest share of metro areas nationwide.

Excessive alcohol consumption is more common among younger populations, and the median age in Beckley of 43.1 years is well above the 37.8 year national median.

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2. St. George, UT
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 10.8%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 15.9%
> Est. number of bars: 2
> Median household income: $54,913

Just 10.8% of St. George adults regularly drink heavily or binge drink, the second smallest share of any metro area in the country. While residents of many of the driest U.S. cities likely abstain from drinking alcohol for financial reasons, St. George is about as wealthy as the average American metro area.

One factor behind the low alcohol consumption among St. George adults may be the city’s large religious population. An estimated 70% of St. George residents belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a faith that forbids consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Similarly, just 8.9% of adults in St. George smoke, the fourth smallest share nationwide.

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1. Provo-Orem, UT
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 8.5%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 14.3%
> Est. number of bars: 10
> Median household income: $65,092

In the Provo-Orem metro area, the typical household earns $65,092 a year, and nearly two in five adults have a bachelor’s degree — each some of the largest such figures nationwide. While alcohol consumption tends to be more prevalent in wealthier parts of the country, where disposable income is higher and there is often greater access to bars, Provo-Orem is the driest city in the country. Just 8.5% of metro area adults drink excessively, less than half the 18.0% national share.

One reason behind Provo’s low alcohol consumption rate is likely the area’s large Mormon population. Some 93% of Provo-Orem residents belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which forbids the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. In addition to low alcohol consumption rates, just 6.6% of Provo adults smoke, the smallest share nationwide.