So, news recently, which turns out to be dated, but in a timeless kind of way, that contemporary Americans’ drinking habits run a gamut from none at all to under a bridge.
Specifically, the Washington Post recently ran a brief article, showcased by an excellent graphic, summarizing American adult alcohol consumption by decile—or grouped into ten evenly populated categories. Some of the results seemed surprising (see below), so I looked into the source. The data comes from a book published in 2007 by an academic press. The author of the article did interview the author of the book, who confirmed that the results, if surprising, are based on government surveys with indicia of reliability.
*30 percent of Americans don’t drink at all. Is this because they independently choose not to or because they have some kind of health restriction, such as substance recovery? Not clear.
*10 percent drink 0.02 drinks per week or about one drink a year. I’m taking it this is the set who drink a glass of champagne at a family Thanksgiving or Port at Christmas Dinner because it is easier to choke down one drink and keep the peace than argue every year about why you can’t “relax” like everyone else.
*10 percent drink 0.15 drinks per week or about six drinks a year. This is the “I’m at a wedding or a prepaid New Year’s Eve party and it is free and I’m not driving in the next two hours” crowd.
*10 percent drink 0.63 drinks per week or about 20 drinks a year. These people are like the above, only more social or are in a job that requires them to go to receptions with alcohol.
*10 percent drink 2.17 drinks per week or about 110 drinks a year. We are now in the zone of people who are likely spending their own money on alcohol, and probably not just at the cash bar at the Children’s Hospital fundraiser, but they occasionally go to bars or order alcohol with dinner or bring a six pack to a party.
*10 percent drink 6.25 drinks a week, which averages a drink every day, essentially. These folks? Well, maybe they have a beer or a glass of wine at home to relax after work every night, or maybe they abstain during the week but go out to bars or parties on weekends and have multiple drinks every Friday or Saturday night. Of course, 6+ drinks in one night puts you in the binge drinking zone, and drinking every day is generally considered a Yellow Flag by the sobriety community.
*10 percent drink 15.28 drinks a week, or more than two drinks a day. Again, drinking every day, or 15 drinks a weekend isn’t bad for an amateur. Oh, right, there is no professional drinking . . . . OK, probably a lot of people who went to college (that’s went, not graduate), were in the military, or worked in Corporate America have been here for a year or two. Prolly want to rent, not buy.
*10 percent drink 73.85 Drinks a week, which is essentially two six packs or two bottles of wine a day. These people will be dead in a year if they don’t commit to God.
The take home message: 50-60 percent of American adults don’t care if they never hold a glass of alcohol again—they are Teetotalers, to wax Victorian; about 20-30 percent of Americans can take it or leave it in the AA sense—Social Drinkers, as it were; 20 percent probably should check out a recovery program or at least have a conversation with a counselor—Worm Food, or those that make the Social Security system work for you and me.
While I haven’t gotten my hands on the book yet, parts of it are available online. The stunning news??? The kicker that anyone who has ever lived in a city over 50,000 people will know on instinct? Drinking a lot è you make more money. That’s right! Our Executive Corps consist of Worm Food! Our country is run by alcoholics!!!! Yeah, no big surprise.
To me, the big takeaway is that having little to no interest in alcohol, only taking occasionally when it is free or cheap is not weird, it is predominant.
Particularly in light of my job/career search of recent vintage, which has primarily been informed by the advice, “Go to a Bar” (Why? Is there local waitress shortage? Doesn’t really seem like it.) I now feel totally empowered to really not drink at all if I don’t want to. Return to the Old Ways!!!!!!! Bwwwwhahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!
Seriously, what is with some people? How boring can you be? Yes, we all turned 21 once, “Oooh, look at me, beer!!!! I’m having a drink!!!” “I’m so socially incompetent and neurotic, I can’t have a conversation with another human being unless I’m half way through my daily quota, all the better if I’m in windowless dump that smells like puke!!! Definitely put me in charge of something!!!!”
Ooh, did we hit a sore spot? Yes, alcoholics have lots of those. Yes, they are very touchy about their behaviors, tend to describe them as normative and normal, and pressure others to act exactly like them. Alcoholics also tend to be manipulative, controlling, take too much on themselves and then descend into a tailspin/ shame spiral when things go wrong, often resulting in a bender, i.e. Le Weekend.
To Personal Choice, Conscious Choice, Independence and Free to Be You and Me. And maybe even shared responsibility. J