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What Percentage Of US Citizens Drink Alcohol? (2024)

What percentage of US citizens drink alcohol?

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 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. 

What Percentage of US Citizens Drink Alcohol?

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.

Men: What Percentage of US Citizens 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.

Women: What Percentage of US Citizens 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.


Aged 12 to 17: What Percentage of US Citizens Drink Alcohol?

  • 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: What Percentage of US Citizens Drink Alcohol?

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 Related to What Percentage of US Citizens Drink Alcohol?

What are the health risks associated with alcohol consumption?

Alcohol consumption, when excessive or prolonged, can lead to a myriad of health risks. Chief among these is liver disease, ranging from inflammation (alcoholic hepatitis) to more severe conditions like cirrhosis, which can be life-threatening. Cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke, are also associated with heavy alcohol intake.

Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety often co-occur with alcohol abuse, exacerbating symptoms and increasing the risk of suicide. Digestive issues like gastritis, ulcers, and pancreatitis can result from alcohol’s irritant effect on the digestive tract.

Moreover, chronic alcohol consumption heightens the risk of various cancers, including those of the mouth, throat, liver, and breast, contributing to significant health burdens globally.

What factors influence alcohol consumption patterns?

Alcohol consumption patterns are influenced by a multitude of factors, including cultural norms and social pressures. Cultural attitudes toward alcohol can shape drinking behaviors, with some societies incorporating alcohol into social rituals and celebrations. Personal experiences, family history of alcoholism, and individual beliefs about alcohol also play significant roles.

Peer pressure, particularly among younger individuals or in social settings where drinking is prevalent, can influence alcohol consumption. Stress and coping mechanisms can lead some individuals to turn to alcohol as a way to alleviate negative emotions.

Additionally, the availability and accessibility of alcohol, through liquor stores, bars, or social events, can contribute to consumption patterns, highlighting the complex interplay of societal, psychological, and environmental factors in shaping drinking behaviors.

What are some warning signs of alcohol abuse or addiction?

Recognizing warning signs of alcohol abuse or addiction is crucial for early intervention and support. Increased tolerance, where individuals require more alcohol to achieve the desired effects, can indicate problematic drinking patterns. Withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, sweating, and anxiety when alcohol consumption is reduced or stopped, are also red flags.

Loss of control over alcohol intake, demonstrated by unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control drinking behavior, may signal alcohol abuse.

Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home due to alcohol use, along with continued drinking despite negative consequences like health problems or relationship conflicts, are common indicators.

Preoccupation with drinking, spending significant time thinking about or obtaining alcohol, and changes in behavior while intoxicated, such as engaging in risky behaviors, can also be warning signs of alcohol abuse or addiction.

What are some strategies for reducing alcohol consumption?

Reducing alcohol consumption can be achieved through various strategies aimed at fostering healthier habits and behaviors. One effective approach is setting clear limits on alcohol intake, whether by establishing a maximum number of drinks per day or per week.

Tracking alcohol consumption can provide valuable insights into patterns and triggers, helping individuals identify situations that may lead to excessive drinking. Avoiding triggers such as social gatherings or stressful situations where alcohol consumption is prevalent can also be beneficial.

Seeking support from friends, family, or support groups can provide encouragement and accountability, while professional counseling or therapy offers additional strategies for managing alcohol consumption.

Exploring alternative activities or hobbies that provide enjoyment without the need for alcohol, such as physical exercise or creative pursuits, can help individuals find fulfilling alternatives to drinking. Finally, practicing mindfulness techniques like deep breathing or meditation can increase self-awareness and help manage stress without relying on alcohol.

Is alcohol consumption safe during pregnancy?

No, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), which can cause physical, behavioral, and learning disabilities in children. Therefore, it’s recommended that pregnant individuals abstain from alcohol entirely.

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


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.


  1. U.S. Alcohol Consumption on Low End of Recent Readings
  2. Gender Differences in the Epidemiology of Alcohol Use and Related Harms in the United States
  3. Excessive Alcohol Use is a Risk to Women’s Health
  4. Rising alcohol use among older adults
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