Which States Drink the Most?

Not all states drink the same amount of alcohol.
Not all states drink the same amount of alcohol.

The rate of alcohol consumption in the United States varies depending on the state. In the past few years, research published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has shown a steady rise in the level of alcohol consumption in most states. The research found out that in the period 2012 -2013 an estimated 73% of the adult population in the US drink alcohol, up from 65% of the adult population in the period 2001-2003. The states with the highest level of alcohol consumption are New Hampshire, District of Columbia, Delaware, Nevada, and North Dakota.

States With the Highest Alcohol Intake

New Hampshire

According to the report, New Hampshire drinks more than any other state. The state's approximately 1.3 million residents had a per capita alcohol consumption of 4.76 gallons per year in 2016. The high level of alcohol consumption is attributed to cross-border sales in neighboring states. New Hampshire does not impose the sales tax on alcohol sales, and as a result, people from neighboring states of Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont buy alcoholic drinks in New Hampshire. Low cost of beer in New Hampshire is another factor that has led to the high rate of alcohol consumption in the state.

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia is a federal district and the capital of the US. The District of Columbia is the second highest consumer of alcohol per capita in the United States. The per capita alcohol consumption in the federal district was 3.85 gallons per year in 2016. The state has fairly lenient laws on the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks are sold throughout the year with little restrictions. Due to the freedom in the alcoholic drinks industry, residents of the District of Columbia are among the highest consumers of alcohol in the US.


Delaware is the third state with the highest consumption of alcohol in the United States. The state’s per capita consumption of alcohol was 3.72 gallons in 2016. The state is home to approximately 962,000 residents. Delaware allows for underage consumption of alcohol in exceptional cases like during religious celebrations or at private parties. Retails stores are allowed to sell alcohol throughout the year. Delaware does not charge sales tax on alcohol, and therefore it is a popular state for alcohol consumers.


Nevada is among the states with the highest rate of alcohol consumption in the US. It is ranked fourth on the list of states with the highest alcohol consumption. In 2016, the per capita alcohol consumption for the people of Nevada is 3.46 gallons. Nevada is home to 2.99 million people. The state has very lax laws on the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol. Retail stores and bars that sell alcoholic beverages operate 24 hours a day all around the year. The state also allows people under the age of 21 years to consume alcohol while in private property.

Why Do Some States Drink More Than Others?

Different states have diverse reasons for consuming high amounts of alcohol. Firstly, lenient laws on alcohol consumption and distribution lead people to consume larger amounts than in places with strict alcohol laws. Secondly, culture influences alcohol consumption. Some cultures use high amounts of alcohol, and as a result, people end up drinking more alcohol than people in other cultures. Thirdly, geographic location determines the amount of alcohol consumed. States situated west of the Mississippi River are likely to have higher rates of alcohol consumption than other American states.

Just like some states drink more than others, some countries exhibit higher rates of alcohol consumption than others. Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, and Russia are all among the world's biggest alcohol consumers.

States Who Drink the Most

RankStateAlcohol Consumption (Per Capita, Gallons)
1New Hampshire4.76
2District of Columbia3.85
5North Dakota3.26
10South Dakota2.87
19Rhode Island2.57

More in World Facts