US Alcohol Consumption Reaches Level Not Seen Since Civil War

Wine bottles with blank labels on the counter of a liquor store. Wine background. Selected focus

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Times are strange. A lotta uncertainty people had to face as a result of the covid pandemic. New research is showing that the average American now drinks about the same amount of alcohol as people drank during the Civil War days, a new study reveals.

The study, conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, found the average American consumes 2.51 gallons of straight ethanol – the pure alcohol found in wine, beer and spirits – a year. That amount – which does not include the water and other ingredients that are part of a bottle of booze – matches the alcohol consumed by people in 1860, the institute reports. That compares to 2.15 gallons in 1995.

While the amount of beer that Americans are downing has dropped by 15 percent, the deficit is more than compensated for by wine, which has seen a 50 percent spike – per person -- since 1995, according to the institute.

What’s more is the average person drinks 60 percent more hard alcohol than in 1995, data reveals.

According to The Hill:

In historical terms, we drink as much liquor now as in the Civil War days. The culture, demographics and economics of American drinking, however, could not be more different. 
Women may hold the key to rising liquor consumption. Women are quickly closing the gender gap in drinking and problem drinking, categories formerly dominated by men. Men once outnumbered women 3 to 1 in drinking and binge drinking. Today, the genders are approaching parity. 
“The story is women,” said Susan Stewart, a sociologist and demographer at Iowa State University. “Wines are marketed to women: the fancy labels with the flowers on them and the pretty colors.” 
Stewart tracks “a normalization of alcohol in our daily lives” that is encouraging women and men to drink. “It’s infiltrated our daily activities that didn’t typically involve alcohol, like sporting events, or a 5K: there’s a beer tent at the end.” 
Wine yoga. A beer fridge at work. Office happy hours. Cocktails at movie theaters. Bike-and-brew cycling trips. Wine-soaked book clubs. All of those modern conventions push alcohol to the center of social life, especially for women.  

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