With a new outlook on the upcoming year, many drinkers tend to start off by declaring sobriety as a toast to Dry January. Following a year filled with financial stress, social anxiety, and a range of other pandemic-related factors, many were looking forward to more freedoms in 2021 and hoping for a return to some sense of normality.

With more restrictions being lifted and people spending less time alone at home in 2021, were they walking to the fridge for a beer or wine top-up far less often than before? A previous study found that American drinkers each consumed 859 standard-sized alcoholic drinks throughout 2020, equating to around 17 drinks per week. Did these figures fluctuate in 2021 when compared to those that emerged previously in 2020?

DrugAbuse.com, a leading provider of substance abuse treatment resources, conducted a survey of 6,370drinkers  across America and found that overall, the average drinker consumed around 13 ‘standard sized drinks’ each week throughout 2021. This equates to 675 drinks in total for the year. When compared to figures from 2020, it was discovered that, on average, America as a nation drank less in 2021. More specifically, 18% less than 2020’s figure of 860 drinks per person.

On a more local level, Marylanders drank 734 standard-sized drinks in 2021 – a 10% increase on the previous year.

The CDC defines ‘heavy drinking’ as 14 drinks per week for men and seven per week for women. For reference, one standard drink is either 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol), 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of liquor (40%) like whiskey, vodka, gin, or rum.

When broken down across the US, New Mexicans drank the most alcohol in 2021 tallying in at an average of 15drinks per week – or 787per year. By comparison, those in South Dakota had just 10 drinks per week (520per year), which was the lowest figure across the country.

By comparison, in 2020 it was found that Alaskans drank the most at 1,404 drinks per person per year. On the other end of the scale, New Hampshire and Hawaii residents drank the least at 520 drinks per person each year.

Infographic showing the % difference between drinking in 2020 & 2021 by state

It could be that changing circumstances in terms of the pandemic had an impact on Americans drinking less in 2021 than they did in 2020. Many people returned to work and life began settling into more of a pattern of normality compared to 2020. Many were spending far less time at home and spending more time at their place of work, therefore making less frequent trips to get a drink from the kitchen. A return to a more normal routine may have also had a positive impact on people’s overall mental health, therefore making them less likely to reach for alcohol in an attempt to numb any anxieties.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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