It’s no secret that some people make drinking a daily routine, or that the habit can culminate into full-fledged addiction over months or years. But marital strife, financial obstacles, and bickering children aren’t the only factors at play. Some workplace environments act as perfect incubators for addiction, encouraging on-the-job drinking or pushing employees to crack open a beer the minute they pull into their driveways.
So what makes certain jobs more or less likely encourage unhealthy drinking patterns?
Some workplaces offer employees greater on-the-job access to alcohol, throwing them into a daily battle against temptation. For example, bar and restaurant employees sometimes sneak drinks under the table, or may be offered a few for free once their shifts are over. The same is true for some blue collar workers (such as house painters and policemen) and some white collar workers (e.g., salesmen). Ease of access not only encourages individual employees to drink, but fosters a workplace culture whereby drinking is accepted—or even expected—as a way to fit in with coworkers.
Understandably, occupational stressors—which vary by field—send many down the bottle. For example, high-achieving white collar professionals—such as doctors, lawyers, and CEOs—often drink to cope with intimidating (even life-or-death) responsibilities, as discussed in a previous article. Workplace harassment also ups the odds of both low- and high-risk drinking for this crowd.
On the flip side, blue collar workers are sometimes thought to drink to relieve feelings of powerlessness. They may be plagued by worries of job insecurity, dangerous work conditions, and layoffs. Beyond that, hitting the bottle may boil down to boredom at work, such as the need to complete an endless string of repetitive tasks.
Long Working Hours
Whether it be to garner their bosses’ approval, stay afloat on demanding projects, or put enough food on the table, many Americans clock in hours of overtime every week. In spite of the financial pluses, however, workaholism can up the risk of alcohol use by depriving hard-working employees of sleep, the ability to mentally recharge, and quality time with families and friends. Plus, it’s tempting to let off steam with a couple of margaritas after slaving away in a cubicle all day.
Unconvinced? A 2015 paper encompassing 61 studies found that those who worked more than 48 hours per week were 13% more likely to develop risky drinking behaviors than those who worked 40 hours!
Lack of Supervision
There’s a reason some managers eye their employees like hawks. Stringent supervision—including regular performance checks and the immediate identification of errors—has been shown to reduce on-the-job drinking. Nurses, laboratory technicians, bank tellers, social workers, and other white collar workers are typically subject to such oversight.
Some employees are more likely to be fired for alcohol-induced slip-ups, leading to a quicker diagnosis and efforts to seek treatment. Researchers believe that for this reason, current waiters and waitresses are 4.5 times more likely than average to be diagnosed with alcohol issues, whereas the same can’t be said for former waiters and waitresses (who likely called it quits instead of seeking help).
If you suspect alcohol is interfering with a loved one’s productivity at work or wellbeing at home, it’s never too late to do something. Mention Ria Health, which allows members to monitor their drinking habits at on the go—even at work—with an easy-to-use app. Our program is completely private and accessible anytime. Plus, our team helps members avoid compromising situations and cope with stress after clocking out, minus the booze.
Kimberly Nielsen writes about health issues, and has written for various scientific newspapers and blogs. She is currently studying biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and plans to pursue a graduate degree in Public Health.