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What Percentage Of US Citizens Drink Alcohol? (2022)

Last Updated on July 25, 2022 by Lydia Martin

The United States ranked at the 39th spot worldwide in 2019 with annual pure alcohol consumption of 9.97 liters per person. Rising above the worldwide average alcohol consumption of 5.8 liters, what percentage of US citizens drink alcohol?

Read on as we break down the percentage of alcohol consumers in the United States. 

Alcohol Drinking in the US

Alcohol Drinking in the US

In the United States, the legal alcohol drinking age is 21 years old, and the standard drink must only have 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.

The 2021 record of 60% of adult alcohol consumers in the United States is among the lowest in the past two decades. 

On the other hand, the highest recorded percentage of alcohol consumption was from 1976 to 1978, with 71% of US residents drinking alcohol [1].

However, recent studies showed a significant increase in women, adolescents, and elderly drinking statistics.

What Percentage of Men Drink Alcohol?

  • In the United States, men (63%) are more likely to consume alcoholic beverages than women (57%).
  • With an average pure alcohol consumption of 19 liters per year, men drink nearly three times as much as women pure alcohol consumption.
  • More than half, or 54%, of male alcohol consumers, choose beer as their alcoholic beverage, 28% choose liquor, and 15% prefer wine.
  • At least 28% of males stated that they completely abstain from drinking. 
  • At least 7% or 9.2 million of the drinking men population gets diagnosed with alcohol use disorder or AUD [2].
  • There are also more cases of men getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) than women.

What Percentage of Women Drink Alcohol?

What Percentage of Women Drink Alcohol?

  • At 57%, there are fewer women alcohol consumers than men, making their average pure alcohol consumption per year amounts to only 6.7 liters.
  • Unlike men, most women prefer wine (49%) as their alcoholic beverage to liquor (26%) and beer (23%).
  • There are more female high school alcohol consumers (32%) than male high school students (26%) [3].
  • Around 38% of women consumers reportedly abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • With 5.3 million or 4% of the female drinking population, women are also less likely to get diagnosed with AUD than men.
  • Recent surveys have shown a significant increase in the alcohol consumption of women, slightly closing the gap between the two genders.

Read:

Underage Drinking – Aged 12 to 17 Years Old

  • Adolescents from age 12 to 17 years old drink at least one out of ten alcohol drinks consumption in the United States.
  • Although the legal drinking age is set to 21 years old, around 70% of the teen population already consumed alcohol before they were 18 years old. 
  • In 2019, more than 139 million United States residents reportedly started drinking at 12 years old.
  • That same year, approximately 414,000 teens from 12 to 17 years old had AUD. The breakdown includes 251,000 teenage females and 163,000 teenage males.
  • However, from 2002 to 2018, there was a significant decline in teenage binge drinking from 11% to 5%.

Elderly Drinking

Elderly Drinking

  • Two out of three (67%) elderly from age 50 to 80 occasionally consumed alcohol.
  • The majority of the elderly, or 77%, only drank one to two drinks on a typical day, 17% consumed three to four drinks, while 6% had more than five.
  • Despite the relatively low to moderate alcohol consumption among the elderly, recent surveys show an increase in the number of elderly who exceeded the recommended alcohol guideline.
  • In particular, 27% reportedly had more than six drinks on one occasion, while 7% admittedly drank alcohol that led to blackouts [4].

FAQs

What percentage of the US does not drink?

Approximately 30% of US adult residents do not drink alcohol. Occasional adult consumers range from 55% to 71% since 1939, when Gallup first started recording the alcohol use of US residents. 

However, Gallup reported in 2021 that the percentage of adult drinkers declined from 65% in 2019 to 60%, giving the impression that the percentage of non-drinkers increased among US residents. But which US state drinks the most?

What race drinks the most alcohol?

White Americans drink the most alcohol in the United States at 59.8%. Native Americans, including Alaska Natives and American Indians, follow at 47.8%, Hispanic Americans at 46.3%, then Black Americans at 43.8%.

The lowest percentage is among the Asian Americans at 38% of alcohol use for the past-30-day estimates [5]

In addition, Native Americans tend to be heavy and binge drinkers, followed by White, Hispanics, and Black Americans. Here are 5 facts about alcohol

Do Millennials drink less alcohol?

Yes, Millennials drink less alcohol compared to older generations. At least 2.4% of Millennials from 18 to 27 years old reportedly consumed alcohol daily in 2019.

This percentage is lower than Generation X (5.6%), Baby Boomer (6%), and the Silent Generation (23.3%).

Nearly half of Millennial consumers drink alcohol to relax, have a good time, or get a buzz.

Conclusion

Many factors have contributed to the drinking statistics of the United States since the Prohibition Era’s end. But, what percentage of US citizens drink alcohol? 

Studies have shown a decline in US alcohol consumers for 2021 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The records do not show the trend during 2020 due to the nationwide lockdown’s effect on the drinking habits of US residents.

However, experts consider 60% of US adult alcohol consumers among the lower spectrum since 1939.

References:

  1. https://news.gallup.com/poll/353858/alcohol-consumption-low-end-recent-readings.aspx
  2. https://arcr.niaaa.nih.gov/women-and-alcohol/gender-differences-epidemiology-alcohol-use-and-related-harms-united-states
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/womens-health.htm
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/rising-alcohol-use-among-older-adult-202109242599
  5. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh40/152-160.htm

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