Alcohol and alcoholic beverages are rooted in every aspect of western culture. With more active clubs and pubs than ever before, the alcohol consumption rate in the United States is increasing, as it always has. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85.6 % of adults have had alcohol at least once in their life. Almost 70% of people claimed to have consumed alcohol in the recent past.
However, not every age group seems to be equally into alcohol and the culture of alcoholic drinks. One shocking stat from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 414,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 suffer from alcohol use disorder.
Are millennials consuming less alcohol?
Given the prevalence of alcoholic drinks, it is natural to presume that people are drinking more than ever. But to accurately measure that, we need to take into account different age groups as well. Are millennials drinking as much as Gen X and boomers? The answer is no.
One research from the United Kingdom suggests that a 40-year-old drunk is more prone to violence than an 18-year-old drunk. On the other hand, data clearly shows that millennials are drinking less than in the last two generations. When asked if they had consumed alcohol in the last month, 72% of boomers said yes. Only 52% of millennials said yes to the same question.
A growing body of evidence suggests that millennials are drinking less than ever. While there may be various reasons behind it, the truth of the matter is Millenials are walking out of the drinking culture that has been prevalent for so long.
What ramifications will it have on the alcohol industry as a whole? And how will Gen Z adjust to the drinking culture of the country? These burning questions require us to look into the matter from every perspective.
Are millennials sick of drinking?
To say that millennials are sick of drinking may not convey the complete picture. It's definite that a section of the millennial population has fallen out of love with drinking. But for others, it may be more of a self-restraint thing than a hate/disgust factor.
Other recreational drugs have also eaten into the market share of alcohol. With marijuana and a range of marijuana-based recreational drugs made legal, young people are often choosing these over alcohol. Data has already shown that Gen Z is more of other recreational drugs than alcohol. The same is true for a large number of millennials as well.
There are no clear answers to why this is happening. Some argue that the adverse health effects of alcohol are much more dangerous than those of mild recreational drugs. Alcohol alternatives have also come a long way from being seen as useless to now having a huge market. The market is tilting against alcohol, albeit very gradually. In many ways, we can argue that Gen X started this trend, and millennials and Gen Z are taking it forward.
Why are millennials drinking less than ever?
It's a fact that millennials are consuming less alcohol than the previous generations. The reasons behind this phenomenon are varied and diverse. Much of it also boils down to a broad cultural change that may not have any immediate trigger.
Drinking is a social phenomenon for the largest part. Only addicts would spend hours drinking all by themselves. For most people, drinking is a social activity that they do with friends and family. However, the very social fabric is changing and as a result, the drinking culture is also changing.
Here are some possible explanations for it.
Increased health awareness
Evidence shows that people are now more aware of their health. Whether they are healthier than the previous generations or not is a different question altogether. Studies also show how many millennials prefer going to the gym over going to a bar.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also pushed people toward adopting a more healthy lifestyle. The ills of alcohol are well documented, especially when not consumed in moderation. As a result, we can see fewer millennials turning towards heavy drinking and alcoholism. In the bigger social picture, this is indeed a positive change.
Social media and social justice
Social media has changed everything about how people interact with each other. Some of it is for good and some for bad.
Every moment can now be documented, and a video on the internet stays there forever. Bar fights and generally violent behavior after drinking was, for a long time, a social evil that we'd glance over. With the rise of social justice, people are now held accountable for their actions, drunk or not.
Those who have a history of alcohol-driven violence are now very careful about their consumption habits. They realize that the repercussions of any misdemeanor would be grave, and hence, control their drinks.
Breaking down of social structures
In the past, it'd be common for friends to get together on weekends and have a couple of beers. Now, a group of young people could have a great time playing X-Box over the weekend. How we define having a good time has changed, and we no longer necessarily need alcohol to enjoy ourselves. The fact that there are other recreational drugs available also plays a role.
For some people, having a glass of wine was more of an attempt to fit in with a group of drinkers. Fortunately, we now have zero-alcohol beverages that match the notes and flavor of real alcoholic drinks. As more and more people discover the true potential of zero-alcohol beverages, they are choosing to drink alcohol less often.
No matter what the precise reasons are, we cannot deny a body of research that statistically proves the lowered drinking habits of millennials. In the coming years, more and more people will get off alcohol. Non-alcoholic drinks will play a major role in this transition, along with other recreational drugs. We don't know if millennials are sick of drinking, but it's undeniable that they aren't drinking as much as alcohol companies want them to.