Steve DiGioia

Cheers to Excess: Unveiling the California Metro Area Voted Most Drunk in America


According to a recent study by 24/7 Wall St., Santa Cruz-Watsonville tops the list of California metro areas where residents admit to drinking too much.

The study utilized information from the 2020 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a program operated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The cities in each state were ranked based on the alcohol consumption of their residents.

What Is Considered Excessive Drinking?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive drinking is classified as binge drinking and heavy drinking.

Drinking excessively is when women have four or more drinks in one sitting, while men have five or more. Consuming a high amount of alcohol is classified as having eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men.

How Does Santa Cruz-Watsonville Fare When Compared to Other Metropolitan Areas?

Based on the survey findings, 23.2% of adults in Santa Cruz-Watsonville engage in excessive drinking, which is higher than the statewide average of 18.4% and the national average of 19.0%.

It is the top rate among California’s 26 metro areas. The Santa Rosa-Petaluma area had the second highest rate, standing at 22.9%, with San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande following closely at 21.8%.

Furthermore, Santa Cruz-Watsonville ranked 29th out of 384 metro areas in the United States for excessive drinking. In Appleton, Wisconsin, the highest percentage of intoxicated individuals in the US was recorded at 26.8%, with Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin, following closely at 26.3%, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, at 26.2%.

What Happens When You Drink Too Much?

According to a recent study by 24/7 Wall St., Santa Cruz-Watsonville tops the list of California metro areas where residents admit to drinking too much.

Both individuals and communities can experience negative health and social consequences from excessive drinking.

According to the CDC, excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as liver disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

It may also increase the likelihood of experiencing mental health issues such as sadness and anxiety.

Excessive drinking can impair decision-making abilities and increase the risk of violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, and accidents.

Many avoidable deaths occur in the U.S. due to excessive drinking. Over 95,000 fatalities occur annually due to excessive alcohol consumption, as per the CDC. That amounts to approximately 261 fatalities daily.

Vehicle collisions are a frequent cause of fatalities following alcohol consumption. In 2018, a total of 10,511 individuals lost their lives in car crashes involving drivers under the influence of alcohol.

This accounts for 29% of all traffic fatalities in the United States. In California, 29.6% of fatal car accidents are attributed to alcohol.

How Can Heavy Drinking Be Reduced?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a range of evidence-based strategies to prevent and reduce excessive drinking.

These include increasing alcohol prices, limiting the number of alcohol outlets, enforcing minimum legal drinking age laws, and offering screening and treatment for alcohol abuse.

It is advised by the CDC to consume alcohol in moderation, if choosing to drink. Enjoying one drink per day is recommended for women, while men can have up to two drinks per day.

People struggling with alcohol problems can also consider professional therapy or joining support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers a complimentary online service to help individuals find treatment options in their vicinity. 

The NIAAA website offers a variety of resources and tools related to alcohol consumption and its effects.

Addressing Alcohol Consumption in Santa Cruz–Watsonville

With 23.2% of individuals consuming alcohol in excess, Santa Cruz–Watsonville stands out as the most heavily drinking metro area in California, surpassing both state and national averages.

Heavy drinking can lead to chronic diseases, mental health issues, and accidents. More than 95,000 individuals lose their lives annually in the United States due to excessive alcohol consumption.

In order to address this issue, it is important to consider measures such as increasing the cost of alcohol and enforcing regulations on the legal drinking age.

According to the CDC and NIAAA, seeking professional assistance and adhering to moderation guidelines can reduce the negative impacts of alcohol consumption.

Read also: Texas Nights on a Budget: Uncover 5 Dive Bar Gems for Affordable Fun

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