Millennial drinking: The lies and the truth

The shelves at Gamlin Whiskey House in the Central West End of St. Louis are stocked with hundreds of bottles of whiskey on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)
The shelves at Gamlin Whiskey House in the Central West End of St. Louis are stocked with hundreds of bottles of whiskey on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

Credit: David Carson

Credit: David Carson

A revealing new survey about the drinking habits of millennials showed many startling facts, but the one that most got my notice was this: 3.47 percent of millennial men are liars.

The Florida House Experience, a health treatment facility that specializes in alcohol, addiction and mental health problems, surveyed 1,000 millennial men and women about their consumption of alcohol. One of the questions asked how many drinks was the most they had had in one sitting.

Nearly 3 1/2 percent of the men checked “25 or more.” Or in other words, 3.47 percent of the men are liars.

Obviously, I don’t know any of the surveyed people personally, so I cannot tell for certain that absolutely none of them has had more than 25 drinks in one sitting. But 25 drinks is a bottle and a half of liquor. It’s four bottles of wine, plus a glass. It’s a case of beer, plus a bottle.

And there is this: A man weighing 196 pounds (which is the average weight for a U.S. male these days) who had a drink of liquor every 20 minutes for eight hours would have a blood alcohol content of 0.467.

A blood alcohol content of 0.08 makes you legally too drunk to drive. A BAC of 0.467 almost always makes you legally dead.

So perhaps this survey should be taken with a grain of salt — or rather, several grains around the rim of a margarita glass. When asked about their drinking habits, some young men may tend to brag a little. Others, once they’ve hit six or eight drinks, may lose their ability to count.

Still, the survey does have other useful information about the drinking habits of millennials. Actually, I’m kind of sorry I went off on that tangent.

It comes as no surprise that the favorite drink among millennial women by far is wine, with a slight edge to those preferring to sip red than white. Of equally little surprise is the fact that millennial men favor beer by a large margin over red wine.

Alcoholic beverage marketers have apparently noticed this difference, and the millennials have noticed that the marketers have noticed. About 61 percent of the women believe wine marketers specifically target women, while only 18 percent of the men think they target men.

Meanwhile, 69 percent of the men think beer ads are specifically aimed at men (only 69 percent? Do the rest not watch television?), while a mere 21 percent of women think some beer ads are meant for them.

Not many members of either sex believe hard liquor marketing has a sex-based bias.

The least-favorite choice of alcohol for either sex is brandy, with less than 0.5 percent preferring it (and one would guess that most of those live in Wisconsin, which is famously a brandy-loving state). Gin and tequila are also very lightly consumed by youngish people of both sexes.

Most of the respondents said they drink alcohol “for fun,” with a majority also saying they drink “to be social.” About half of both sexes say they drink because “I like the taste of alcohol,” with somewhat less than that saying that one reason is that “life is stressful.”

Twenty-nine percent of the women say they drink because “I like the feeling of being tipsy or drunk,” while significantly more of the men, nearly 37 percent, cite that as a reason.

And what is the result of all this drinking? It could be a sign that millennials as a whole are at risk for developing problems with alcohol. After all, although as a group they make up just one-quarter of adults in America, they are drinking “32 percent of spirits in the United States, 35 percent of the beer, and 42 percent of the wine,” according to the report.

Then again, I think there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that younger adults in general always drink more than older ones.

Or maybe, just maybe, they’re lying.

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