Many Americans Don't Drink Alcohol
Nearly one-third of adult Americans do not drink alcohol at all. Furthermore, another one-third of adult Americans consume less than one alcoholic drink per week. These figures from a Washington Post article astonished me; far more Americans don't drink alcohol or very light drinkers than I had realized.
The Reasons Americans Don't Drink Alcohol
I've been in alcohol recovery for eight years, and most people I hang out with don't drink. In fact, I'm so accustomed to talking with people in substance abuse recovery that I forget there are other reasons someone might not drink alcohol. A few weeks ago, I was at a conference and when I heard one of my fellow classmates didn't drink, I immediately assumed he was in alcoholism recovery. When I asked him about it, he responded that he did not drink because he is Mormon.
This had never even occurred to me. But the truth is, I have known people from various religions or non-religious people who choose not to consume alcohol. My best friend from childhood drank a little bit in college, but it didn't appeal to her and now she doesn't. Another good friend of mine chooses not to drink because she doesn't like to feel out of control. I also know health conscious folks who abstain from alcohol because they feel the negative health effects of alcohol outweigh the possible positive ones.
Most Americans Drink Less Alcohol Than You Think
According to statistics from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), 30% of American adults don't consume alcohol. Of those that do drink, the median number of drinks per week is three. The mean average is misleading because the actual data is very lopsided: the top 10% of Americans drink on average 74 alcoholic drinks per week--over 10 a day. This means that many Americans drink little or nothing, but those folks on the high end of the spectrum often binge drink and hit the bottle--or can--hard.
Drinking Little or No Alcohol is Normal for Americans
In 2013, 43.6% of Americans over age 18 reported drinking no alcoholic beverages in the past month, according to NESARC data. Furthermore, 29.3% drank no alcohol in the past year. I'm not here to tell anyone they drink too much or that their drinking is abnormally high, but I think it's important for those of us who have given up alcohol to realize we are not alone.
I never thought of alcohol as something you could take or leave. To me it seemed people either didn't drink or it was a huge part of their lives. But then again, I am not a moderate person in general. I can't just smoke an occasional cigarette, now and then, for example: I'm actively addicted or I'm abstinent. I now know that living with little or no alcohol drinking is a perfectly viable and acceptable way to live. When we are in our addiction, we tend to surround ourselves with people who drink or use like us. That is why it sometimes feels like we are the only ones who are clean and sober. In fact, those of us in addiction recovery are in good, and expansive, company.
Author: Kira Lesley
Having noted mood aides either supply you with temporary bravery, or allows you to become something that you’re really are not.
In my opinion it is most important to be whom you are as you do with meeting a new coworker, your building supervisor, or anyone that has the appearance of a person you may wish to know better, on some level you know that you don’t have to “ impress” to gain friendship.
I also genuinely believe that being yourself in any situation will prevail.
Thank you very much for your comments. It is interesting to me because I live in a place where people drink a lot and production of alcoholic beverages is a big part of the economy and, increasingly it seems, the identity. I have not spent enough time in the South to know what that's like, but I think it's unfortunate and unhelpful when anyone judges, especially if it's not coming from a place of genuine concern.
It can be difficult to tell from the averages alone, but one of the things I found interesting about the articles I read for this piece was that consumption seemed to be at extremes. The people who consume the most alcohol in America consume a lot of it, and then a lot of people don't drink at all. But as for the amount that you drink, I am not a professional but it seems to me the most important thing is not the volume per se (though that can be a useful indicator) but how it is affecting you. Certainly some people can drink in moderation, or they can take it or leave. Then for others, it begins to interfere with their lives. If you are concerned, you could talk to your health care professional about some sort of assessment. But if it does not create any problems for you (physical, psychological, emotional, etc.) then it's certainly not my place to pass judgement on you, or anyone else for that matter! Thank you for sharing your insights, and you are certainly welcome to read and comment whether you are an alcoholic/addict or not!
Your deep message was a breathe of fresh air that I can speak with when I become sober.
And people on Facebook say I'm a moron for not wanting too drink well this site shows that a lot of people don't drink at all