How drunk are the people in your home state?



NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- This fall, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism released a comprehensive study of alcohol consumption per capita for every state in the U.S. as of 2007. Essentially, the NIAAA gathered data on alcohol sales for each state and divided it by census population numbers, including any person 14 or older (can't forget all those underage drinkers). The results are broken down into consumption of beer, wine and spirits, so you can learn if people in different states are more likely to be beer guzzlers or wine snobs.

Keep in mind that these numbers are based on alcohol sales in each state, so we can't say for sure who is drinking what, just what people are buying. The original study listed alcohol consumption in terms of ethanol (or pure alcohol). So we crunched some numbers to get you data in terms you can drop in to cocktail party conversations. Here you'll find how many gallons of alcohol are consumed by the average person in each state, and how many cans of beer (16 oz.) and bottles of wine (25 oz.) that translates to. How drunk are the people in your home state?

In 2007, the average American bought 31.6 gallons of alcoholic beverages. This amount has been rising gradually since the start of the decade, with the biggest growth occurring in the amount of wine and spirits being bought. In 2000, for example, the average American bought just more than 12 bottles of wine, while in 2007, they bought 15 bottles.

Still, the majority of alcohol consumption is from beer. The average Americans bought 26.9 gallons of beer in 2007, which works out to be about 215 cans (if each cans was 16 oz., or one pint).

We'll start with the 10 most sober states and move on to the 10 drunkest, ranked by the volume of alcoholic beverages bought:

10th-least drunken state: Ohio
Ohioans may have one of the best party schools in their state and love their college football, but apparently they are better at moderating the amount of alcohol they drink than most other states in the country. Way to go, Ohio. You've got class.
Total alcohol consumed: 32.6 gallons per person
Beer: 236 cans per person
Wine: 9.9 bottles per person
Spirits: 1.1 gallons per person

Ninth-least drunken state: Alabama
Some citizens in Alabama are so against drinking that they actually held a vote to reinstate prohibition in one city. The vote failed, mainly due to a feared financial backlash from lost alcohol sales. Alabama is also one of the few states in the country that fines people who drink beer with more than 6% alcohol.
Total alcohol consumed: 30.6 gallons per person
Beer: 220 cans per person
Wine: 8.7 bottles per person
Spirits: 1.4 gallons per person

Eighth-least drunken state: West Virginia
Like Alabama, West Virginia forbids its inhabitants from buying beer that's more than 6% alcohol by volume. Earlier this year, though, the government overturned that law and raised the alcohol limit to 13.9%. So perhaps this state is loosening up.
Total alcohol consumed: 29.3 gallons per person
Beer: 220.4 cans per person
Wine: 3.96 bottles per person
Spirits: 1 gallon per person

>>Binge Drinking on the Rise

Seventh-least drunken state: North Carolina
North Carolinians may drink less beer and hard liquor on average than most of the country, but apparently they love their wines. Each person drinks more than 11 bottles on average, which makes sense given all the beautiful vineyards in the state.
Total alcohol consumed: 29.3 gallons per person
Beer: 206.2 cans per person
Wine: 11.1 bottles per person
Spirits: 1.4 gallons per person

Sixth-least drunken state: Oklahoma
Oklahoma is notorious among liquor lovers for enforcing the almost unreasonably low alcohol rate of 3.2%. People have complained that their alcoholic beverages are too watered down to be worth drinking. With that in mind, we're surprised people in Oklahoma buy as many bottles of beer as they do. We would switch to wine instead.
Total alcohol consumed: 28.9 gallons per person
Beer: 209.8 cans per person
Wine: 6.8 bottles per person
Spirits: 1.4 gallons per person

Fifth-least drunken state: Kansas
Kansas has some of the toughest liquor laws on the books, including restrictions on shipping alcohol and store hours. Despite these laws and the comparatively low rate of alcohol consumption, Kansas did have one of the largest increases in drunken-driving deaths in 2007. Then again, Kansas did rank in the top three of our Happiness Index, which may mean they're doing something right.
Total alcohol consumed: 28.7 gallons per person
Beer: 208 cans per person
Wine: 5.9 bottles per person
Spirits: 1.5 gallons per person

Fourth-least drunken state: Tennessee
This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Think about it: Al Gore is pretty much the most famous person to come from Tennessee. When is the last time you've seen him drink anything?
Total alcohol consumed: 28 gallons per person
Beer: 200.9 cans per person
Wine: 7.9 bottles per person
Spirits: 1.4 gallons per person

Third-least drunken state: Arkansas
Like Kansas, Arkansas has tough restrictions on when and where alcohol can be sold. For example, in 2007, only businesses that earned the majority of their revenue from food sales could sell liquor on Sundays, and only if citizens approved it in local elections. Some might think it's unfortunate that the state doesn't appreciate alcohol more, given its fine microbreweries and wineries.
Total alcohol consumed: 26.6 gallons per person
Beer: 190 cans per person
Wine: 6.7 bottles per person
Spirits: 1.5 gallons per person

Second-least drunken state: Kentucky
Kentucky may be a God-fearing state, but it seems to fear alcohol the most -- surprising, given it's the home of Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon. In this state, wine is lumped together with hard liquor. In fact, there are restrictions on the books that essentially prevent grocery stores from selling wine. More recently there has been talk of prohibiting alcohol advertisements in certain counties. But even with all of that, they are still a drunker state per capita than the No. 1 state on our list...
Total alcohol consumed: 26.2 gallons per person
Beer: 186 cans per person
Wine: 6.7 bottles per person
Spirits: 1.5 gallons per person

The least drunken state: Utah
Let's just call it the designated-driver state. Because of state restrictions (and the heavy hand of the Mormon church), it was nearly impossible to barhop in Utah. Basically, any bar that served beverages with more than 3.2% alcohol had to register as a private club. That was the case until the state eliminated this odd law in the middle of this year.

But as of 2007, to visit one of these "private clubs," you actually had to buy a membership. Beyond that, there are still strict limits on how much alcohol you can be served at any given time. So, Utah, we'd like to toast your achievement at becoming the most sober state in the nation. Congratulations and ... uhhh ... cheers.
Total alcohol consumed: 18.9 gallons per person
Beer: 133 cans per person
Wine: 6.4 bottles per person
Spirits: 1 gallon per person

And the 10 most intoxicated states are ...

10th-drunkest state: Colorado
This year, nearly 50,000 people gathered in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival, the largest commercial beer competition in the world. Time declared Colorado the best place in the country to tour amazing breweries, dubbing it the "Napa of beer." And, of course, who could forget about Coors, the Rocky Mountain beer?
Total alcohol consumed: 34.7 gallons per person
Beer: 229 cans per person
Wine: 18.7 bottles per person
Spirits: 2.4 gallons per person

Ninth-drunkest state: Alaska
Let's just say that when you live that far north, of course you're going to need a couple gallons of hard alcohol each year to warm yourself. In particular, Alaska is known for its ales and barley wines.
Total alcohol consumed: 35.4 gallons per person
Beer: 234.6 cans per person
Wine: 17.9 bottles per person
Spirits: 2.6 gallons per person

Eighth-drunkest state: Wyoming
People in Wyoming start drinking early, and they drink hard. According to one study from this year, teens who drink in this state tend to ditch beer and go straight for the harder stuff. In addition to having the University of Wyoming, a well-known party school, the drinking culture here is propped up by the state's extremely low alcohol tax, at just 2 cents. Wyoming has the lowest tax rate on beer in the country (except for the drunkest state, which has no alcohol tax at all).
Total alcohol consumed: 37.6 gallons per person
Beer: 264.9 cans per person
Wine: 9.1 bottles per person
Spirits: 2.7 gallons per person

Seventh-drunkest state: Delaware
Delaware is responsible for one of the best craft brews out there, Dogfish Head. On top of that, the University of Delaware is the ultimate party school, thanks to its college football team and some crazy fraternities. But sometimes the parties go too far. Delaware students offended plenty of people when then held drinking parties where they dressed up as immigrants. Predictably, many fraternities have engaged in pretty hard-core hazing.
Total alcohol consumed: 38.5 gallons per person
Beer: 247 cans per person
Wine: 23.4 bottles per person
Spirits: 3 gallons per person

Sixth-drunkest state: North Dakota
What else is there to do in North Dakota besides drink? There are only so many times you can drive to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. But if you do drink in North Dakota, don't buy pretzels. We hear it's illegal to drink alcohol and eat pretzels at the same time in any bar in that state.

Clearly, all that drinking hasn't hurt the state too much, as it was ranked one of the top 10 happiest states in the country, according to our Happiness Index.
Total alcohol consumed: 39.3 gallons per person
Beer: 279.1 cans per person
Wine: 9.1 bottles per person
Spirits: 2.6 gallons per person

Fifth-drunkest state: Wisconsin
It should be no surprise Wisconsin is in the top five. This state traditionally ranks high on any list that involves alcohol. Milwaukee was ranked the No. 1 drunkest city by Forbes in 2006. On top of that, the United Health Foundation recently released a report ranking the 50 states in terms of binge drinking, and Wisconsin was the worst. Nearly a quarter of the population has reported drinking too much. They are also No. 1 for driving under the influence. Stay classy, Wisconsin.
Total alcohol consumed: 39.5 gallons per person
Beer: 273.8 cans per person
Wine: 13.1 bottles per person
Spirits: 2.7 gallons per person

Fourth-drunkest state: Montana
Word has it that the youth of Montana are rowdy and reckless and love their booze. In 2007, one study found that nearly 20,000 students in ninth through 12th grade were binge drinking. On a lighter note, there are plenty of great breweries and festivals that take place in Montana, making this a haven for drinkers.
Total alcohol consumed: 40.1 gallons per person
Beer: 282.6 cans per person
Wine: 13.9 bottles per person
Spirits: 2.1 gallons per person

Third-drunkest state: District of Columbia
People in D.C. (yes, we know it's not a state) clearly love their wine. The average person here buys almost 40 bottles of vino each year, by far the most on our list. Although keep in mind that we're talking about alcohol consumption in 2007 -- there was an election on and the recession hadn't yet fully hit, so people were still partying. We're guessing that much of this statistic is driven by lobbyists taking our senators and congressman out for fancy meals.
Total alcohol consumed: 41.6 gallons per person
Beer: 240 cans per person
Wine: 39.3 bottles per person
Spirits: 3.9 per person

Second-drunkest state: Nevada
No doubt Sin City plays a big role in Nevada's drinking habits. Yet even residents of towns outside Las Vegas have plenty of reason to drink these days. Nevada has been hit harder than most states by the recession and has the worst foreclosure rates in the country.
Total alcohol consumed: 46 gallons per person
Beer: 304 cans per person
Wine: 25.4 bottles per person
Spirits: 3.1 gallons per person

The drunkest state: New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a drinker's paradise. It has the highest per capita sales of beer and spirits on our list, and it's largely because of one reason: The state does not have a tax on its alcohol. So people in and out of state flock to its liquor stores for cheaper booze. Yet New Hampshire has managed to turn a vice into a virtue. According to The Wall Street Journal, the state "derives more revenue from wine and liquor sales than any other non-tax source." Congratulations, New Hampshire, you're the booziest state in the nation.
Total alcohol consumed: 48.7 gallons per person
Beer: 309.3 cans per person
Wine: 29.4 bottles per person
Spirits: 4.3 gallons per person

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