DC’s WASHINGTON A large majority of Americans believe that drinking negatively impacts both society at large and individual drinkers. Nearly as many U.S. people (71%) believe alcohol consumption has a negative impact on drinkers’ personal lives as it does on society, though more say this impact is “somewhat negative” than “extremely negative.”
However, two-thirds of Americans believe they personally have the occasion to drink alcoholic beverages, indicating that these alleged harmful consequences of alcohol are insufficient to deter Americans from consuming. On average, individuals who do drink say they do it modestly, having four drinks a week on average.
Drinkers in the United States are more evenly split in their tastes than ever before, with about equal percentages stating that they most frequently drink beer, wine, or liquor.
Alcohol Mainly Seen as “Somewhat” Negatively Affecting Drinkers, Society Americans’ perceptions of alcohol’s negative consequences are clear but nuanced. In other words, American adults are considerably more inclined to say alcohol has a moderately bad impact on society and drinkers than a severe one.
Adults in the United States feel alcohol usage has a moderately bad impact on society, and 20% say it has a very negative impact. Similarly, 52% believe alcohol has a moderately unfavorable effect on drinkers, compared to 19% who believe it has a very bad effect.
Alcohol is perceived as having significantly more negative effects by non-drinkers than by drinkers. The likelihood that alcohol has a highly negative impact on society and drinkers is at least three times higher among non-drinkers than among alcohol consumers.
Additionally, Americans without a college degree are more than twice as likely to believe that drinking alcohol has bad repercussions on society and drinkers.
Women are seven percentage points more inclined than men to believe that alcohol has some negative consequences on society and drinkers.
Americans Drink Alcohol at Relatively Stable Rates
Since 1939, Gallup has kept tabs on public alcohol use. In that year, 58% of American adults reported using alcoholic beverages “such as liquor, wine, or beer” on occasion. Since then, majorities have continuously responded in the affirmative, with the imbibing proportion remaining above 60% since 1997. In three surveys performed in 1976, 1977, and 1978, the percentage of drinkers peaked at 71%; however, the question was not asked in 2020, when COVID-19 lockdowns may have had an impact on drinking habits.
The most recent number of 67%, obtained from a Gallup poll conducted from July 5 to 26, represents a little increase over previous year, when alcohol use was at the low end of a small range of values.
Three out of ten drinkers report having ingested alcohol within the previous day. While 33% report that their most recent drink was more than a week ago, another 36% reported having one during the previous week. In the range of 26% to 40% since 1984, the 30% who had drunk alcohol in the last 24 hours is on the low end.
The average number of drinks consumed in the past week in the United States is 3.9, which is broadly in line with previous estimates. Around five drinks were consumed on average each week in 2003 and 2004.
Beer Use Decreases; Alcohol Use Rises to New Highs
Over the past three decades, the most popular form of alcohol consumed in the United States has changed significantly, but in almost every reading, beer has surpassed wine and liquor. This year, the difference is less as beer consumption, at 35%, is one percentage point below its all-time low. When Gallup initially posed the question in the early 1990s, the response rate was as high as 47%.
31% of all drinkers are wine drinkers. Since 2006, between 30% and 35% of consumers have reported drinking wine most frequently.
The 30% of American drinkers who prefer booze as their preferred beverage represents a new trend high, also by one point. Alcohol consumption has persistently lagged behind beer and wine, average 22% since 1992, and has been as low as 18%.