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Do We Drink More in The Winter?

people drinking in winter outside

Winter is the time for hot chocolate by the fire, snow days, skiing…and drinking alcohol?

It has long been thought that the winter months lead to more drinking, but does this statement have any evidence to support it? The answer is yes.

One study found that colder weather and fewer hours of sunlight are correlated with increased alcohol consumption. The research also shows that there are more frequent cases of alcoholic cirrhosis in areas with harsher and colder climates.1 Another study found that the average BAC in the United States is highest from December 1st to March 31st.2 Drinking in the winter at a higher rate appears to be the trend worldwide, but why?

Reasons Why People Drink More in the Winter

As providers of alcoholic treatment in Philly, we know all too well that many factors can drive someone to alcoholism, but it looks like the winter might be part of the problem. The are many suspected factors that may contribute to these high winter drinking trends.


Depression tends to be more common in the winter months including seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that typically occurs within this timeframe specifically. In fact, seasonal affective disorder is also most common for people who live farther away from the equator, where the winters tend to be harsher with colder weather and fewer hours of sunlight.3 Unfortunately, many people turn to drugs or alcohol when they are depressed, leading people to drink more in the winter when depression is more common.

False Sense of Warmth

Alcohol is a vasodilator that increases the blood flow to the skin and helps you feel warmer, so drinking alcohol in the winter may help you feel less cold. On those chilly winter nights in Philly, doing something as simple as having a few drinks to warm you up may seem well worth it, but this could lead to dangerous consequences.

Cabin Fever

When the winter weather outside is frightful, people tend to stay indoors. Being stuck mostly inside for months can lead to boredom. One study found that binge drinkers not only had higher tendencies of boredom, but also that boredom itself was a good predictor of binge drinking episodes.4 Especially if you have already been through a partial hospitalization program for your drinking problem, being bored can lead to relapse.

Holidays & Events

Not only is the end of the year filled with holiday celebrations, but the winter months seem to be stacked with some heavy drinking holidays and occasions. One study found that 14 out of the 15 biggest drinking days of the year in the United States occur between December and March including New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl weekend, the day after Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, and St. Patrick’s Day weekend.2

If you or someone you love is struggling with drugs or alcohol, do not wait for the winter to make your problems worse. Our Philadelphia addiction treatment center can help you overcome these issues.

To learn more about our programs at Banyan Philadelphia and how we may be able to help you or your loved one, reach out to us today at 888-280-4763.


  1. Hepatology - Colder Weather and Fewer Sunlight Hours Increase Alcohol Consumption and Alcoholic Cirrhosis Worldwide
  2. CBS Detroit - Report: Americans Drink The Most During Winter Months
  3. NIH - Seasonal Affective Disorder
  4. ScienceDirect - “I cannot stand the boredom.” Binge drinking expectancies in adolescence
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Do We Drink More in The Winter?
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