According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 15 million people ages twelve and older were living with alcohol addiction in the United States in 2019. Sadly, it is unlikely that this number has decreased in the years since. It is likely somewhere similar or even higher today. Of these nearly 15 million Americans, it is also likely that many, if not most, of them are in the workforce. Nearly all adults must work to live and even to maintain an alcohol addiction. Although anyone can develop an alcohol addiction, workers in certain occupations may be more likely to develop alcoholism.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, which is also referred to as alcohol use disorder, is a medical condition that has fully developed when a person is unable to exercise any reasonable control over their alcohol consumption, especially when facing severe consequences. This definition is intentionally broad because the severity of alcoholism can vary by person and the development of the disorder.
Common Side Effects of Alcoholism
Although alcoholism will affect every person living with it differently, there are several common side effects many alcoholics will face in their everyday life. Alcoholism can have negative impacts on a person’s health, family, friends, finances, education, and occupation. Despite these side effects, those living with alcoholism are unable to control or stop their consumption of alcohol.
Consequences of Alcoholism in the Workplace
While alcoholism can have a variety of negative effects on an individual’s health and personal life, alcoholism can also lead to a number of issues in the workplace, affecting much more than just the person living with alcohol use disorder. These issues can include:
- Increased accident rates
- Potentially fatal accidents and injuries
- Increased absences
- Loss of productivity
- Loss of interest in work
- Poor decision-making
- Issues with co-workers and/or management
- Loss of job
Occupations with High Rates of Alcoholism
Unfortunately, there are a number of occupations with high rates of alcoholism. Although working these jobs will not automatically make one an alcoholic, some of the conditions in these positions can make one more likely to abuse alcohol, which often leads to alcoholism. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), these are some common occupations with the highest rates of alcoholism in the United States:
According to the research conducted by SAMHSA, miners had one of the highest rates of heavy alcohol use among occupations surveyed. Nearly 18% of miners reported heavy alcohol use in the past month. This use can be attributed to the fact that many miners work irregular hours doing physically demanding and dangerous work. Many miners also suffer from depression, which can be a major factor in alcohol abuse. By combining hard work at irregular hours along with high rates of depression, it makes miners more likely to develop alcoholism than most other occupations.
The second-highest rate of heavy alcohol use that SAMHSA researched among the various occupations in the U.S. was with construction workers. 16.5% of those working in construction reported heavy alcohol use in the past month. Like miners, construction workers also do physically demanding work with a high risk of injury. The construction industry is also less stable. Many construction workers often go through periods of unemployment, which can have a negative impact on their mental health. These factors make construction workers more likely to abuse alcohol and develop alcoholism.
Food Service Worker
According to SAMHSA’s study, the third-highest rate of adults who engage in heavy alcohol use among occupations in the United States were those working in the foodservice industry. Almost 12% of adult food service workers reported heavy alcohol use in the past month.
Part of the reason for this can be attributed to the nature of the business. Bars and restaurants with bars provide access to alcohol, and sneaking drinks is not an uncommon practice. However, jobs in food service are also high stress since there is always a need to be timely. Again, the conditions of the positions within food service along with the potential negative effects on a person’s health make those in this industry more likely to abuse alcohol and develop an alcohol addiction.
Another occupation with heavy alcohol use that is more likely to develop alcoholism is management. Nearly 10% of members in this category reported heavy alcohol use in the past month. This is an extremely general category since there are supervisors and managers in nearly every industry in the United States and abroad.
However, most managers often have similar experiences. Managers are usually under immense stress to ensure goals are met and projects are completed on time. They are also the ones who are often put in the position to resolve issues with staff and with customers. Because of these high demands and the potential strain on their mental health, those in management are likely to abuse alcohol.
Similar to the foodservice industry, workers in another major industry in the U.S. reported high rates of alcohol use. 9% of those who work in retail reported to SAMHSA that they had consumed alcohol heavily in the past month. Like managers and those in the foodservice industry, workers in retail also face significant strains on their mental health.
Although their work may not be very physical, those who work in retail often experience mental exhaustion from working with demanding customers, managing a register, and maintaining their store’s standards, expectations, inventory, policies, and more. Combining these factors with low pay rates contributes to retail workers having high rates of alcohol abuse, often leading to alcoholism.
Searching for Effective Treatment for Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a difficult disorder to overcome, but it is possible with professional help! If you or a loved one is living with alcoholism, the team of addiction specialists at Asheville Detox is ready to help! We offer our patients a number of detox options to help them overcome their alcoholism and maintain their sobriety. Contact us today for more information!