Skip to main content

The Midwest is home to the 50 drunkest counties in the United States, including one in Minnesota and a whopping 41 in Wisconsin

24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 drunkest counties in the U.S out of 3,106 counties using data from the 2021 County Health Rankings and Roadmap report by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute 

In every county on the list, more than one in four adults drinks excessively. Nationwide, fewer than one in five adults drinks excessively. 

Le Sueur County in south-central Minnesota, ranking No. 38, is the only Minnesota county on the list. According to 24/7 Wall St., 27.2% of adults there reported they binge drank or drank heavily in the past 30 days. 

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks for a woman and five or more drinks for a man on a single occasion. Heavy drinking is defined as more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men. 

The county has a median income of $71,080 (the 291st highest of 3,106 counties reviewed). According to the publication, 12.9% of adults report poor or fair health (146th lowest) and 31.3% of the driving deaths in the county involved alcohol (1,057th highest).

The State of Wisconsin, though, is home to 41 of the 50 drunkest counties. More than half of the state's 72 counties made the list, including nine of the 12 counties that border Minnesota.

Coming in at No. 1 overall is Outagamie County, Wisconsin, with 31% of adults reporting they binge drink or drink heavily.

The northeastern Wisconsin county, which includes the city of Appleton, has a median income of $65,572 (436th highest of 3,106 counties). According to the publication, 13.7% of adults report poor or fair health (259th lowest) and 32% of driving deaths involve alcohol (993rd highest). 

The top five drunkest counties are: 

  1. Outagamie County, Wisconsin
  2. Calumet County, Wisconsin (29.8% of adults report binge or heavy drinking)
  3. Walworth County, Wisconsin (29.3% of adults report binge or heavy drinking)
  4. Pierce County, Wisconsin (28.9% of adults report binge or heavy drinking)
  5. Polk County, Wisconsin (28.8% of adults report binge or heavy drinking)

Iowa is home to six counties on the list, while North Dakota and South Dakota each have one county on the list. 

Health officials say moderate drinking (two drinks for men, one drink for women) carries relatively little risk, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying "drinking less is better for health than drinking more."

Excessive drinking, though, is one of four main risk factors for preventable disease (tobacco use, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are the others). The short-term risks of drinking too much include impaired judgment, which can lead to injuries or death, and alcohol poisoning. Long-term risks include liver disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, poor mental health and alcohol use disorders, according to the CDC

The CDC says excessive alcohol use led to about 95,000 deaths annually in the U.S. from 2011-2015, and it shortened the lives of those who died by an average of 29 years. 

In Minnesota in 2019, 60.5% of adults said they drank alcohol and 20.7% of adults reporting they binge drank, giving Minnesota one of the highest binge drinking rates in the nation that year, the Minnesota Department of Health says.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use, you can call the national helpline at 800-662-4357. The Minnesota Department of Human Services also has a website with treatment options for alcohol or drug use

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-29 at 1.54.31 PM

Missing: Minnesota man last seen in Sioux Falls area

Aaron Pearson, 41, was reported missing on Thursday.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Protest for Tyre Nichols to be held outside MN Governor’s Mansion

Activists groups say they’ll call on Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature to implement police reforms.


Minnesota pool contractor banned from industry, must pay $2 million-plus

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed suit against Charles Workman and his company, MN Crete Pools, LLC, in August.

Minneapolis police

St. Paul man identified as victim of north Minneapolis homicide

The shooting occurred on the 2200 block of Emerson Avenue North on Wednesday.


Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.


Wisconsin has 12 of America's 'drunkest' cities, Minnesota has 1

Wisconsin once again ranks highly for binge drinking.

Minnesota is surrounded by 15 of the 20 drunkest cities in America

Mankato is the only city in Minnesota listed in the top 20.

Minnesota is one of the drunkest states in the country

Not nearly as bad as North Dakota and Wisconsin, though.

kid hospital doctor

3 Minnesota children's hospitals included in U.S. News 'Best of' list

No Minnesota hospitals cracked the top 10 in the U.S., but they did rank nationally in pediatric specialties.