Long Hours at the Office Make People More Likely to Become Heavy Drinkers

After a long day or week at the office it may feel appropriate to kick back with a beer. But a recent study has found workers who clock-in more and 48 hours in a week run the risk of developing a unhealthy alcohol habit.

There's a saying: Work hard, play hard. But this kind of lifestyle may have adverse effects on people's health. After a long day or week at the office it may feel appropriate to kick back with a beer or two. But a recent study has found workers who clock-in more and 48 hours in a week run the risk of developing a habit for unhealthy alcohol consumption.


Penny Sarchet from New Scientist writes that the research spanned 14 countries from an analysis of 61 studies, taking data from a total of 330,000 people across the globe. The data collected has led researchers to conclude that longer hours boosts your likelihood of becoming a heavy drinker by 11 percent compared to those that work a normal 40 hour work week.

Marianna Virtanen at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health along with her colleagues found in their own separate research that people who worked 49 to 54 hours a week were 13 percent more likely to overindulge in their alcohol consumption. They defined over-consumption as 14 drinks for women and 21 for men.

"There was some evidence from previous studies that working long hours may be associated with unhealthy lifestyle, such as low physical activity and high alcohol use.”

Indeed, and now that this data has been gathered across multiple countries, regardless of socio-economic status and culture, we can see that longer working hours may have harmful side-effects. Workers may use alcohol as a way to get through to the next week, drinking away their worries as it were.

"We think that some people may cope with excess working hours with habits that are unhealthy, such as using alcohol. The symptoms they try to alleviate with alcohol may include stress, depression and sleep disturbances."

The authors of the study conclude that the workplace may be an important place to begin talking about alcohol misuse. But it's also important for workers to understand the risks their taking on their health by working such long hours. The researchers concluded their study, writing:

“Further research is needed to assess whether preventive interventions against risky alcohol use could benefit from information on working hours.”

Read more at New Scientist

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