Three-quarters of American adults believe alcohol has a negative effect on society and on those who drink, according to a new Gallup survey.
The poll, released this month, found that 75 percent of Americans believe alcohol has a negative impact on society, while 23 percent say it has a positive effect. About one in five Americans (20 percent) say the effect on society is “very negative,” while 55 percent say it’s “somewhat negative.”
Similarly, 71 percent of Americans say alcohol has a negative effect on people who drink, while 27 percent say the effect is positive. The critics of alcohol include 19 percent who say alcohol has a “very negative” effect on people and 52 percent who say the effect is “somewhat negative.”
Even so, most Americans say they drink, according to Gallup, with 67 percent saying they at least occasionally “use alcoholic beverages such as liquor, wine or beer” – the highest since 2010, when it also was 67 percent – while 33 percent saying they always abstain. The 33 percent is the lowest since 2010 (also 33 percent).
“Broad majorities of Americans believe the use of alcohol adversely affects both society in general and drinkers specifically,” Gallup’s Megan Brenan wrote in an online analysis. “… Yet, these perceived negative effects of alcohol are not enough to discourage Americans from imbibing. … On the whole, those who are drinking report doing so moderately, averaging about four drinks per week.”
Even Americans who drink believe its impact on society is negative, with 59 percent saying it’s “somewhat negative” and 12 percent calling it “very negative,” for a total of 71 percent. Among Americans who always abstain, 48 percent label the effect on society as “somewhat negative” and 37 percent as “very negative,” for a total of 85 percent.
The poll was conducted in July among 1,013 adults.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.