Would you give up coffee for alcohol? How about sex, TV, sugar, or even your car?
If you’re like most Americans, chances are you’d be willing to give up at least a few things to keep alcohol in your life. Americans are, after all, big drinkers.
In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 56 percent of Americans over the age of 18 reported drinking at least once in the past month, nearly 27 percent reported binge drinking, and over 86 percent have drunk alcohol at least once in their life.
Based on this data, it’s easy to see why Americans have a difficult time giving up alcohol. But is it stronger than our addiction to our phones or more passionate than our love for sugar and coffee? We asked over 1,000 Americans what they would and wouldn’t give up to keep alcohol in their life. Here’s what we learned.
When asked which they’d rather give up for a month, most Americans (more than 65 percent) would give up going to the movies to continue drinking alcohol. Half of survey respondents would also go without social media for a month (perhaps surprising for those who argue social media is an addiction itself). And many would give up coffee (over 47 percent) or sugar (nearly 38 percent) for a month before ditching alcohol.
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Alarmingly, almost 11 percent of people would give up their cars to keep alcohol in their life, and another 17 percent would give up sex. According to the 2015 National Survey On Drug Use and Health, 15.1 million Americans 18 and older suffer from alcohol use disorder.
If giving up alcohol would stop climate change, save a stranger’s life, or even help find the cure for cancer, would you be willing to give it up forever?
Most Americans would say yes. However, the number of people who wouldn’t give up alcohol to save the world is larger than you might expect.
Over 23 percent of men and roughly 17 percent of women wouldn’t give up alcohol for the rest of their lives to stop global climate change. Around 35 percent of men and more than 19 percent of women would rather drink than give kids in other countries access to clean drinking water. And a startling 36 percent of men and nearly 26 percent of women would prioritize alcohol over saving the life of a stranger.
Are Americans more apt to give up alcohol in exchange for love, money, and fun? The majority would; however, a few would not.
In fact, over 60 percent of people who drink once a day or more wouldn’t give up alcohol when watching sports, even if it meant their team would win next year’s championship. And almost 35 percent of daily drinkers wouldn’t remain with their significant other if that person didn’t approve of their alcohol use.
Other incentives yielded similar results, with only 2 percent of yearly drinkers turning down tickets to see their favorite band or musician compared to nearly 13 percent of daily drinkers.
Shockingly, 40 percent of heavy drinkers (those who drink once a day or more) would rather lose a pet than give up alcohol for the rest of their life. Another 26 percent would give up their sense of smell, and 24 percent would lose a finger.
Which are we more passionate about: politics or drinking? It turns out the answer may be politics. Over 73 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of Republicans would give up alcohol forever if it meant President Trump would be impeached tomorrow.
However, nearly 31 percent of Republicans would give up drinking if it meant the media stopped writing negative things about the president.
So who’s most likely to give up drinking when faced with good deeds, broken relationships, and lost limbs?
When it comes to relationships, women were more likely than men to end things with a partner who didn’t approve of their alcohol use. Millennials were slightly more willing to lose a finger (a finding that seems to align with new research published in the BMC Medicine journal that shows drinking peaks for most in their 20s). And wine drinkers were almost 10 percent more likely than liquor and beer drinkers to give up sex than their nightly glass of red.
We’ve asked about love, limbs, and our passions, but what about money? How much would it take to get people to give up alcohol?
On average, the minimum amount of money survey respondents would accept to quit drinking for a month was $400. For a year, it’d take more than $4,700. And to get the average person to give up alcohol for life, it would cost at least $365,458.
Of course, Americans could give themselves a financial bump by giving up alcohol – even if not quite as large. The average American spends $1 on alcohol for every $100. In 2014, the median household income was $56,516 – this means an average spending of $565 a year, $5,650 every 10 years, $11,300 every 20 years, and $28,250 every 50 years on alcohol alone.
Of course, the value people assign to alcohol varies greatly depending on how often they drink. Those who drink daily would need over $9,000 to give up alcohol for a year compared to the roughly $1,400 it would take for those who drink once or twice a year. Beer drinkers would need about $1,000 more than wine drinkers. And men asked for about $1,000 more than women.
Americans may feel protective over their alcohol consumption, but at the end of the day, is it really worth it? In the U.S., alcohol kills more teens than any other drug, and someone is injured in a drunk-driving accident every two minutes, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic deaths.
Addiction can make it difficult to choose between alcohol and your well-being. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is always another choice. Our tools and resources can provide you with the information you need to find help. To learn more, visit us at Detox.net.
We surveyed 1,013 men and women from the U.S. and asked them to answer questions related to what they would sacrifice in exchange for alcohol. The survey was limited to active alcohol drinkers, which we defined as anyone who has had at least one alcoholic drink within the past year. Forty-one percent of respondents identified as women, 58 percent of respondents identified as men, and 1 percent identified as a gender not listed by our survey.
When asked to describe the frequency of their drinking, 13 percent said a few times a year, 29 percent said a few times a month, 45 percent said a few times a week, and 13 percent said once a day or more. When asked to describe their political affiliation, 21 percent identified as Republican, 43 percent identified as Democrat, and 36 percent identified as other.
When determining the average minimum amount of money respondents would be willing to give up alcohol, the top and bottom 5 percent of answers were excluded as outliers.