Does Austin have a drinking problem?


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

Posted on March 27, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 27 at 10:37 PM

AUSTIN -- Bars, music festivals, film festivals and happy hours: Seems like everywhere you look in Austin there's access to alcohol.

“I used to live in Boston, now I live in Austin, and I’d say Austin is definitely more of a drinking culture,” said Jillian Ricciardi.

Ricciardi said it's a drinking culture fueled, among many things, by warmer temperatures.

“Between the nice weather and happy hours, people just like being out and interacting," she said.

According to drug and alcohol treatment center, Austin Recovery, problems with alcohol abuse are on the rise.

“In comparison to three years ago, it's probably up 15 percent," said Angela Vickrey.

Vickrey told KVUE News that alcoholism in Austin is a growing problem.

“It's up, and it's consistently up more and more each year. It has definitely increased," she said.

According to a survey by Forbes, Austin ranks in the top five for America's drunkest cities.

KVUE's news partner Austin-American Statesman report alcohol sales are up five percent from this time last year, according to data from the Texas Comptroller’s Office.

All that consumption equals more drinking and driving, so it may not be surprising that Travis County is number one in the state of Texas for DUI arrests.

That's where police step in, and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has been vocal about his feelings toward Austin's drinking culture.

“I really believe that when you look at our downtown we have more liquor licenses than any place in the country I think, or concentration of liquor licenses," said Acevedo.

The Statesman reports that the top three sellers of alcohol in February were hotels: the Hilton Austin, the W Hotel Austin and the Four Seasons downtown.

However, go nearly anywhere in the city and you’re likely to find a place to order a brew and drink up.


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