Special Report

America's Drunkest States

Source: Thinkstock

35. Delaware
> Adults drinking excessively: 16.6%
> Alcohol-related driving deaths: 37.9% (6th highest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 16.7% (21st highest)
> Drunkest metro area: Dover, DE

Tied with South Carolina, some 16.6% of adults in Delaware binge drink or drink heavily, which is less than the share of American adults who drink to excess at 18.0%. Typically, states where the excessive drinking rate is lower also have lower shares of deaths from alcohol-involved car crashes. Despite a lower share of adults who drink excessively, 37.9% of all deaths from car crashes in South Carolina are related to alcohol consumption, the sixth highest share of any state.

Source: Thinkstock

34. Indiana
> Adults drinking excessively: 16.8%
> Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.6% (5th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 18.0% (14th highest)
> Drunkest metro area: Bloomington, IN

A total of 16.8% of Indiana adults drink to excess, less than the national excessive drinking rate of 18.0%. Binge or heavy drinking can lead to many health issues, including high blood pressure, stroke, and long-term memory problems. Like many states reporting lower excessive drinking rates, incomes are lower in Indiana. The median household income of $52,314 a year, below the national median household income of $57,617.

Despite the relatively low excessive drinking rate in Indiana, the premature death rate in the state of 387 deaths before the age of 75 for every 100,000 people is the 10th highest. This is likely — at least in part — the result of the high obesity rate in the state, which at 31.7% is also the 10th highest of all states. Earning a low income makes it challenging to afford healthful food and and exercise opportunities, and the state’s low income helps explain its high obesity rate.

Source: Thinkstock

33. Georgia
> Adults drinking excessively: 16.8%
> Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.4% (4th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 17.5% (16th highest)
> Drunkest metro area: Athens-Clarke County, GA

Similar to Indiana, some 16.8% of adults in Georgia drink excessively. Nationwide, 18.0% of adults binge drink or drink heavily. Excessive drinking over time can lead to myriad health issues, both mentally and physically, including depression and cardiovascular disease. Despite the lower share of adults who drink to excess, Georgia has a relatively high premature death rate. An estimated 377 of every 100,000 people die before the age of 75 in Georgia. Excess consumption of alcohol is only one factor that can contribute to poor health — obesity can also cause serious health complications. The adult obesity rate in Georgia of 29.6% above the national rate of 28.0%.

Source: Thinkstock

32. Kansas
> Adults drinking excessively: 16.9%
> Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.3% (8th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 15.1% (22nd lowest)
> Drunkest metro area: Lawrence, KS

In this Midwestern state, 16.9% of the adult population drinks alcohol to excess — a lower percentage than the the national rate of 18.0%. Excessive drinking of alcohol can lead to a variety of health issues, including, but not limited to, breast, liver, and colon cancer. Despite the lower drinking rate, Kansas does not report the best health outcomes. For example, 30.8% of adult residents are obese, likely partially due to the fact that 23.5% of adults lead sedentary lives. Both the obesity and physical inactivity rates are above the comparable national rates of 28.0% and 22.0%, respectively.

Source: Thinkstock

31. Texas
> Adults drinking excessively: 17.3%
> Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.9% (18th lowest)
> Adults in fair or poor health: 19.3% (10th highest)
> Drunkest metro area: Austin-Round Rock, TX

Some 17.3% of adult residents in Texas report either drinking heavily or binge drinking, less than the 18.0% of American adults who drink excessively. Despite a lower heavy drinking rate, 19.3% of adults in Texas report they are in fair or poor health, which is the 10th highest share among all 50 states. It is likely that the high percentage of adults who are physically inactive in the state contributes to its poor health outcomes. Some 23.0% of adults in Texas lead sedentary lifestyles, higher than the national average inactivity rate.

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