The Cost of Drinking Over a Lifetime in Each U.S. City

Going out for drinks is part of many people’s social lives, young and old, but it can potentially develop into a costly problem in multiple ways. For one, regular drinking can turn into a dependency, or what some people describe as functional alcoholism, giving individuals the belief that they’re in control even when they aren’t. At the same time, it’s estimated that less than 10 percent of those with alcoholism receive professional treatment.

There are also financial downsides to regular drinking, especially if one has a habit of drinking frequently and/or in large quantities. We decided to take a closer look at how United States cities compare when it comes to drinking habits and the cost of these over a lifetime. To do so, we first looked at City-Data for the number of drinks each city’s inhabitants drink in a week on average. Using CDC data on the average life expectancy in each state, we then found the number of drinks consumed over a lifetime on average. Finally, we used Expatistan to find the average cost of alcoholic drinks in each city in order to determine the cost of drinking over various periods of time, including a full lifetime (age 21 and up). Our calculation included the cost of two drinks “out” each week, and all remaining drinks at home.

The Cities That Spend the Most and Least on Alcohol in a Lifetime

The U.S. cities that spend the most and least on alcohol in a lifetime

Looking at the costs over a lifetime reveals some pretty staggering numbers. We used each state’s average life expectancy to find the years of drinking (age 21 and over), then compared this with each city’s weekly drinking habits and cost of alcoholic drinks. The three cities that spend the most — New York, NY, Minneapolis, MN, and Miami, FL — all spend $116,000 or more on drinks over a lifetime. Those that spend the least — Birmingham, AL, New Orleans, LA, and Memphis, TN — each spend $57,000 or more.

 

The Cities That Spend the Most and Least on Alcohol in a Year

The U.S. cities that spend the most and least on alcohol in a year

Next, we wanted to look at the figures in a year’s time rather than a full lifetime. Because of the life expectancy factor in our lifetime calculation, the ranking of cities varies slightly between these two lists. Looking at our one-year calculation, Miami, FL rises to the second most expensive city in the U.S. ($1,996.80), topped only by New York, NY ($2,029.82). Minneapolis, MN fell from 2nd to 3rd most expensive ($1,970.54). The ranking of cities that spend the least also changed — the highest ranking three are Birmingham, AL ($1,073.07), Buffalo, NY ($1,114.57), and Richmond, VA ($1,127.00).

 

How Much Money Could Each City Save by Drinking Less?

The money that could be saved by spending less on alcohol, by U.S. city

In addition to how much is typically spent, we also wanted to see how much people could save by altering their drinking habits. Annually, people in these cities could save anywhere from $268 to $507 just by decreasing their alcohol use by 25%. Looking at a 50% or 75% reduction, the annual savings jump to $536+ and $804+, respectively. Even small habit changes related to alcohol consumption can impact one’s wallet and health.

 

Drinking by the Numbers: How Do the 50 Largest U.S. Cities Compare?

Money spent on alcohol for each U.S. city

Finally, we wanted to show the figures for all 50 cities included in our analysis. From this you can see how the average number of alcoholic drinks consumed each week varies across the U.S., as well as the prices of drinks. Some cities, such as Indianapolis, IN, tend to drink a high quantity of beverages, but have relatively low prices for drinks. Others, such as San Francisco, CA, have the opposite situation. How does your city compare?

If you’re concerned that someone you know has an alcohol dependency problem, learn more about how you can find help.

 

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