This Texas Metro Area Was Ranked the Drunkest in America

Texas is renowned for its barbecue, cowboys, oil, and independent spirit. However, a lesser-known fact is that it is home to one of the nation’s drunkest metro areas. According to a report by 24/7 Tempo, the Austin-Round Rock metro area boasts the highest percentage of adults reporting excessive drinking in Texas, ranking 26th out of 384 metro areas nationwide. This blog delves into the factors contributing to this ranking, potential consequences, and suggested solutions.

Understanding Excessive Drinking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes excessive drinking as binge drinking and heavy drinking. Binge drinking involves consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more for men on a single occasion, while heavy drinking is defined as eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more for men.

In the U.S., around 19.0% of adults regularly engage in excessive drinking. To identify states and metro areas with the highest and lowest rates, 24/7 Tempo analyzed data from the 2020 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

Austin-Round Rock Comparison

Texas ranks 20th with a 19.5% excessive drinking rate, slightly above the national average. Austin-Round Rock takes the lead within the state, with 23.4% of adults reporting excessive drinking, equating to nearly one in four individuals. Although it holds the highest share in Texas, it ranks 26th nationally. Travis County, part of the Austin-Round Rock metro area, claims the top spot in Texas with a 25.1% excessive drinking rate.

Examining alcohol-related driving deaths reveals that 29.8% of such incidents in the Austin-Round Rock area involve alcohol, surpassing both the national and state averages. Hays County, also part of the metro area, records the highest alcohol-related driving death rate in Texas at 38.5%.

Reasons and Risks

Various factors contribute to high excessive drinking rates in the Austin-Round Rock metro area, including demographics, culture, economy, and alcohol availability. The area boasts a large and youthful population, with a median age of 35.6, encouraging social drinking. Vibrant cultural events like South by Southwest and a flourishing economy with a low unemployment rate of 2.7% may also contribute.

Despite these factors, excessive drinking poses substantial risks to individuals and the community, leading to health, social, and economic problems. Short-term risks include violence, accidents, and alcohol poisoning, while long-term consequences encompass alcohol dependence, chronic diseases, and mental health issues. The societal impact extends to significant economic costs, estimated at $249 billion per year.

Solutions and Recommendations

Addressing excessive drinking requires a comprehensive approach involving individuals, families, communities, health professionals, policymakers, and the alcohol industry. Evidence-based strategies include:

  1. Increasing alcohol taxes and prices: Higher prices have shown to reduce alcohol consumption, especially among younger and heavy drinkers.
  2. Limiting alcohol availability and access: Strategies include reducing the number of alcohol outlets and enforcing the minimum legal drinking age.
  3. Enhancing enforcement and compliance: Strict enforcement of alcohol laws, particularly against drunk driving and underage drinking, is crucial.
  4. Promoting screening and intervention: Offering counseling and referral services for those drinking excessively, along with support for individuals with alcohol use disorders.
  5. Supporting community-based prevention: Raising awareness, educating about the risks, and creating a healthy and safe environment are essential components.


The Austin-Round Rock metro area stands out as Texas’ drunkest region and one of the nation’s top spots for excessive drinking. With 23.4% of adults reporting excessive drinking and a high rate of alcohol-related driving deaths, the area faces significant challenges. Identifying and addressing contributing factors, along with implementing evidence-based strategies, is crucial to reducing excessive drinking and its detrimental consequences in the community.

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