Well folks, the latest polls show that drinking alcohol in the United States is at a 25 year high. For years I rallied for us to set a new record and finally, it looks like we’re on track. The housing market is in the shitter, the economy is a steamy terd, and unemployment is still hopelessly high. What better time could there be to grab your drink of choice and get your buzz on? -zOnk
The unstable economy hasn’t seemed to put a dent in Americans’ penchant for partying.
The number of adults in the United States who drink spiked to 67 percent, a modest increase over last year and the highest rate on record since 1985, a Gallup poll has found.
Though wine has gained popularity points and beer has lost some, a tall, frosty glass of barley and hops is still the favorite alcoholic beverage, with wine coming in second and liquor third.
Gallup has followed Americans’ drinking habits for nearly three-quarters of a century, with the levels reaching an all-time high of 71 percent between 1976 and 1978. But “despite some yearly fluctuations, the percentage of Americans who say they drink alcohol has been remarkably stable over Gallup’s 71 years of tracking it,” the polling company says.
The low point came in 1958, when only 55 percent of U.S. adults said they drank. During the first year of polling in 1939, just as the Great Depression was ending, the drinking rate was 58 percent.
But the latest findings aren’t cause for mayhem, says Massachusetts psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat, the mental health expert on AOL’s Medical Advisory board.
“I don’t really make a lot of it,” he said. “Sixty-seven percent say they don’t completely abstain. That certainly doesn’t make me alarmed as a psychiatrist. I’m most concerned about finding problem drinking … This data doesn’t really speak to that.”
Carlat defined problem drinkers as those who consume several drinks a day and are losing control of their lives as a result.
“Most people who are social drinkers are not problem drinkers,” he said.
Beer has been the top beverage of choice since 1992, except for the year 2005 when wine had the edge. This year, 41 percent of alcohol drinkers listed it as their favorite, compared to 47 percent in 1992 and 1994, the poll showed.
Most brewsky drinkers are men, Midwesterners and younger Americans, whereas wine is the favorite among women and older people.
Wine’s biggest drinkers are women over 50, with an equal number of women under 50 choosing wine and beer as the favorite. The biggest beer enthusiasts are men under 50, according to Gallup.
The poll showed that those who rarely or never go to church are significantly more likely to say they consume alcohol than regular churchgoers. Catholics, non-Christians and those who don’t identify with any religion were more inclined to say they drink than Protestants.
Those with lower income and education levels were less likely to drink than those who are more educated and make more money. But Americans who say they drink were found across all demographic groups.
Moderate and light drinking have been linked to various health benefits, including lower incidence of heart attacks, according to several medical studies on the subject. But only 59 percent of older people in the U.S. say they don’t abstain from alcohol.
The Gallup poll findings were based on phone interviews done from July 8 to 11, 2010 with a random sampling of 1,020 adults 18 and older living in the U.S.
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