New Research Shows Workaholics Are More Likely to Drink Heavily
It is fairly commonplace for work and alcohol to mix; whether it be drinking socially with coworkers in a networking situation or relaxing with a drink at home after a hard day at work. Recent studies have shown that workaholics are more likely to drink heavily. Data analyzed on more than 430,000 participants found that those working at least 49 hours a week are up to 13% more likely to drink excessively compared to those working between 35 to 40 hours weekly. Having a drink after work to unwind is commonplace and not considered to be “risky alcohol use”. Risky alcohol use is defined as consuming more than 14 drinks a week for women and more than 21 drinks a week for men.
Consuming alcohol in large amounts like this weekly can make people vulnerable to a multitude of health issues including heart disease, stroke, liver damage, and cancer. In a recent survey, it was discovered that one-third of workers have come to their jobs hungover and 15% have admitted to being drunk on the clock. When researched combed through the data collected on those 430,000 participants they separated it into two types of studies. The first was a cross-sectional study showing a snapshot of 333,693 people in 14 different countries. In this group, it showed that people who work longer hours (exceeding 40 hours a week) were 11% more likely to engage in risky alcohol use than those who work a traditional 40 hour a week work schedule. The other study followed a group of 100,602 people and tracking them at least twice during their research. What researchers discovered was that among those who did not start out as risky drinkers, those with lengthier work weeks were 12% more likely to evolve into a risky drinker. The data also concluded that those who worked 49 to 54 hours a week were 13 % more likely to be risky drinkers.
While this may not sound like much of an increase, one should keep this important fact in mind: Much of the information on alcohol use was self-reported. Most heavy drinkers tend to underestimate their drinking therefore, the link between the number of hours worked weekly and risky drinking may actually be much greater. While the data did not directly answer the question as to why workaholics are more likely to drink heavily, there are three theories that seem highly probable. The first one being that the alcohol relieves stress brought on by difficult work situations. The second theory is the idea that those who “work hard” tend to also “play hard” in their social lives. The third possible reason is that people who are depressed or are faced with sleeping difficulties require more time to finish their work and thus become more inclined to drink. Regardless of the reason, if one is having more than a few drinks nightly to cope with work, seeking help or different ways to relieve stress is ultimately the best answer.