This Is America’s Least Drunk City

Alcohol, particularly alcohol abuse, takes a terrible toll on Americans each year. The CDC reports that excess alcohol abuse leads to nearly 100,000 deaths each year. That translates into about 1 in 10 deaths of working-age Americans. The cost of alcohol abuse to the economy each year is close to $250 billion. These things do not take into account the damage alcohol abuse takes on families.

The health effects fall into a small number of categories. High blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, and cancer. It would be hard to find a list of more dangerous diseases.

Still, each day, millions of American adults enjoy alcohol responsibly. Moderate drinking — defined as two standard drinks per day for men and one standard drink for women — carries relatively little risk, and may even have some health benefits.

Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 24/7 Tempo identified the U.S. metropolitan area with the lowest excessive drinking rate.

We looked at metro areas based on the share of adults who either binge drink or drink heavily. CHR defines binge drinking as consumption of more than four drinks in a single occasion for women and more than five drinks for men, while heavy drinking is defined as more than one drink a day on average for women and more than two drinks a day for men.

It is important to note that alcohol affects everyone differently, and as a general rule, drinking less is better than drinking more. Additionally, the vast majority of Americans who drink excessively — about 90% of them — do not have a severe alcohol use disorder, a chronic disease commonly referred to as alcoholism.

America’s least drunk city is Provo-Orem, UT. Here are the details:

> Adults binge or heavy drinking: 6.6%
> Driving deaths involving alcohol: 18.0% — 35th lowest of 384 metros
> Median household income: $79,152 — 32nd highest of 384 metros
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.3% — 21st lowest of 384 metros

Methodology: To determine America’s least drunk metro, 24/7 Tempo reviewed rates of excessive drinking from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report.

The rate of excessive drinking is defined as the share of adults who report either binge drinking or heavy drinking in the past 30 days. Binge drinking is defined as a woman consuming more than four drinks or a man consuming more than five drinks in a single occasion. Heavy drinking is defined as a woman consuming more than one drink per day on average or a man consuming more than two drinks per day on average.

We aggregated county-level statistics to metropolitan statistical areas. While the CHR report is from 2021, excessive drinking rate figures published in the report are from 2018.

We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metros.

Metros were ranked based on the excessive drinking rate. Additional information on the share of driving deaths with alcohol involvement and the share of adults who report fair or poor health are also from the 2021 CHR. Median household income data are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

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