Westland ranked 57th in Michigan for alcohol-related social media posts during pandemic (study)

Almost exactly two years ago, Michiganders in towns and cities across the state hunkered down, unaware that a global pandemic would render them largely homebound for such a long period of time. Like so many other Americans, Michiganders were affected by anxiety – worry about the coronavirus itself, the economic repercussions and what the future may look like in a post-pandemic world. As is the case in more normal times, when people feel stressed or depressed, they reach for the bottle in what they perceive to be a short-term solution.

  • Inkster ranked #9
  • Livonia ranked #18
  • Garden City ranked #24
  • Click here for the Infographic and to view the study.

As the pandemic well and truly set in, two things happened: people began to consume more alcohol, and they spent more time on social media – their primary channel with the outside world. In July 2020, Gov. Whitmer signed legislation allowing for to-go cocktails and the creation of “social districts” where people could drink from open containers, and people also began to experiment making their own craft cocktails. As the months progressed, the term ‘Quarantini’ entered our mainstream lexicon, becoming a catch-all term for any cocktail made during lockdown, and soon social media was flooded with alcohol-related content. In one study, Michiganders’ favorite homemade cocktail during the pandemic was found to be a 7 and 7. 

National rehab directory, Rehabs.com, commissioned a study in which the 100 largest towns and cities in The Great Lakes State were ranked for their number of alcohol-related Instagram posts over the course of the pandemic. The researchers analyzed 5,000 Instagram posts starting from March 2020 – the unofficial start of lockdowns for most states – to identify how many were related to alcohol or being drunk. The results reveal which town/cities posted about it the most, which could possibly indicate a problematic relationship with alcohol.

Rehabs.com made some interesting discoveries: the first being that Portage, which has a population of just 48,774, came in the number one spot with 381 alcohol-related Instagram posts (per 5,000 posts) during the pandemic. This represents 7.62% of all Instagram posts in that town during that period. This might not be all that surprising when you consider that Portage is in Kalamazoo County, which has the highest amount of excessive drinkers in the state at 23%, according to County Health Rankings. This places it in the top 10th percentile of the whole country and is higher than the average excessive drinking rate in Michigan of 21 percent.

Coming mid-table was Romulus with 175 alcohol/drunk-related posts representing 3.5% of all posts during that time. And, positively saintly in last place, was the community of Holt, which has a population of 26,065. It clocked up just 5 alcohol/drunk-related posts equalling a minimal figure of just 0.1 percent. And this is despite being located in Ingham County which, according to the County Health Rankings, has an excessive drinking rate of 20 percent.

In 57th place came Westland, in which there were 160 Instagram posts related to alcohol or being drunk. This represents 3.2% of all posts of its 81,938 residents.

Infographic ranking Michigan’s towns and cities by their alcohol-related social media posts

While the term “alcoholism”is clinically ambiguous and out of use, Rehabs.com have included below some signs to be aware of that that are indicative of problematic relationship with alcohol:

  • Difficulty controlling one’s level of alcohol consumption.
  • Wanting to decrease or stop drinking alcohol but being unable to do so.
  • Developing a higher tolerance for alcohol and needing more over time to reach the desired effects.
  • Experiencing alcohol cravings when not drinking as well as withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, shaking and nausea.
  • Facing personal problems at home, work, or school due to alcohol use.