Regional Diversity in United States Drinking Practices

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Summary

Recent studies have noted significant regional changes in American patterns of alcohol use. The present paper discusses regional differences in drinking patterns, problems, attitudes, and contexts as these have emerged along with the ‘wettening’ of the previously drier Southern and Mountain states. Data come from a 1984 national survey. Results indicate the persistence of regional differences in abstention rates and in apparent consumption levels when calculated on a per-drinker basis. The higher per-drinker apparent consumption levels in the historically drier regions are accompanied by higher levels of problems in the categories of belligerence, accidents, and trouble-with-the-police. These differences in problem rates, however, are apparent only among men, indicating an interplay between gender and region. Attitude measures do not show notable regional differences, which indicates unresolved tensions, in the drier regions, between relatively high (per drinker) consumption and relatively conservative drinking attitudes. Contextual evidence indicates that the limitation of public drinking opportunities in the drier regions is accompanied by more drinking in the home.

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