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Three martini lunches may be a thing of the past, but for many workers heading out to happy hour or grabbing a drink is a normal way to wind down at the end of a long day on the job. And new research suggests there is a strong link between working long hours and drinking.

Work more, drink more

An international study published in the British Medical Journal found people who work 48 hours or more per week are 11% more likely to drink in excess than those who work less than 40 hours.

The study found no difference between blue collar and white collar jobs, and the results also transcended geographic locations and income levels. The study also determined that those who moved into a more stressful job during the study were 12% more likely to develop a drinking problem.

Some experts theorize that workers are self-medicating with alcohol to overcome stress. However, others are quick to point out that correlation doesn’t equal causation. Some question which came first: stress or heavy drinking. Individuals who are driven to work long hours may operate under a “work hard, play hard” mentality. Another theory is that high-stress workplaces may attract individuals with alcohol issues by providing them an excuse to consume more alcohol and an opportunity to drink frequently with others.

Alcohol misuse impacts workplace productivity

Many jobs require long hours and come with high levels of stress. But alcohol misuse and abuse account for 46% of lost workplace productivity in the U.S., so companies benefit from taking steps to help their workers prevent or address alcohol issues. Below are a few ways companies can support employees and promote healthy alternatives:

  • Limit alcohol at company sponsored events or during business travel
  • Opt for alcohol-free events in lieu of happy hours after work
  • Promote alternative ways to de-stress, such as on-site exercise programs and support groups
  • Provide wellness programs that include alcohol awareness seminars
  • Make resources for counseling, mental health support, and addiction treatment visible in the workplace

What are some other ways that companies can help workers make healthy choices around stress relief and alcohol consumption?

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.

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