Credit: Tai's Captures / Unsplash

When Americans were told to hunker down inside their homes and stay six feet apart from each other two years back, most thought it’d be a short-term situation, in those naïve pandemic times. As some employers began offering a two-weeks-at-a-time hiatus from in-person work, people apparently started to reach for the bottle in order to soothe their anxiety about the ongoing crisis.

A national rehab directory,, commissioned a study to determine which city in California had the highest number of alcohol-related Instagram posts during the pandemic. Its researchers combed through 5,000 Instagram posts in the 100 largest cities since March 2020 when the lockdown began.

Among them, Santa Barbara stands at spot 26 on the list, sandwiched between Victorville and Fullerton. Fairfield, a town in Solano County that is home to the Jelly Belly Candy Company, ranked first with 432 alcohol posts. This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, as the county also has the highest amount of excessive drinkers in the state at 20 percent, according to County Health Rankings.

But even Santa Maria ranked higher than Santa Barbara in boozy content, earning a spot at 21 on the list. With UCSB ranking second in the 2022 Top Party Schools in California list, this data could be considered an insult to the amount of liver-menacing drinking that goes on in Isla Vista each weekend. Santa Barbara amassed 318 Instagram posts related to alcohol or being drunk, which is only 6.36 percent of all posts from residents during this time period.

Alcohol consumption significantly increased by 21 percent during the pandemic according to the Mass General Research Institute, but Santa Barbara’s youthful student population was seemingly too smart to post their alcohol consumption — whether because they were underage, participated in Greek life, or simply did not want their future employers spotting that they were down to have a good time.

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