Drinking in the U.S. hit a 25-year high in 2010

Diane Alter – AHN News Reporter

Atlanta, GA, United States (AHN) – For many it’s social. For others it’s an escape. For some, it’s simply more time. For whatever the reason, Americans are drinking more.

Consumption of alcohol hit as 25-year high in 2010, with 67 percent of Americans reporting drinking alcoholic beverages, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup poll. That was a level not seen since the late 1970s, when 71 percent of Americans reported they imbibed.

Social drinking habits vary widely across the country, and where you live can influence how much you drink. Age, gender, income and other factors also play a role.

New Englanders and people in the far West and the Upper Plains states drink the most, according to the Washington based trade group, the Beer Institute. The driest states are spread across the Deep South, Texas and the mid-Atlantic (except Washington D.C.).

New Hampshire takes the top spot as the state that drinks the most, more than double the national average. People in N.H. consumed an average 6.7 gallons of wine apiece, and 3.8 gallons of liquor in 2010.

Reasons sited for the Granite State’s heavy hand with booze include it is a popular vacation destination in both the summer and winter, and there is no tax on wine and spirits, allowing residents in neighboring states to stock there liquor cabinets with liquor purchased tax-free in N.H.

What Americans drink also varies greatly by region. In the Southwest, California and along the East Coast, spirits are the beverage of choice. Beer reigns in America’s heartland.

Wine consumption is on the rise all across the country. In 2010, Americans drank 2.3 gallon apiece, up 35 percent since 1994, and the most ever. Spirits consumption rose 18 percent to 1.5 gallons per person, and beer intake fell 7 percent to 20.7 gallons.

The American Heart Association says moderation is key when drinking. Their recommendations for those who drink are one or two drinks a day for men and one a day for women.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends no more than four drinks a day and 14 a week to keep the risk of alcohol disorders low.

While moderate drinking is associated with reduced heart disease, many health advocates say that if you don’t drink, don’t start, because there are many other healthy ways to prevent heart disease.

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