Kevin Morris 5m 794
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
It’s hard to boil down the issue of alcohol abuse to one particular factor or demographic. The fact that alcohol abuse takes the lives of more than 3 million people each year (6% of global deaths) shows just how complex the issue is. But with that caveat, what can we learn about alcohol abuse in the workplace? Are there certain trends that can show whether alcohol abuse is more prevalent for employers or managers? The answer is not that easy.
More than 14 million people abuse alcohol, according to data highlighted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Upward of 90,000 people die due to alcohol use, making it the third leading preventable cause of death. Many factors play into alcohol abuse, such as someone’s childhood environment, genetics, and psychological issues. For example, the likelihood of abusing alcohol increases from 200% to 300% if a parent abused alcohol in the home. Additionally, young people experimenting with alcohol are more likely to come from wealthy families because there are no financial limits for acquiring the drug. On the other hand, individuals from lower-income families may experience more severe symptoms of stress and anxiety, which promote a high potential for alcohol abuse and accessibility.
The reason this comparison is important is that it represents trends in both blue and white-collar family backgrounds, both of which can lead to alcohol abuse. Add to this the fact that high levels of stress, lack of family support, and peer pressure all lead to patterns of problematic behavior, including alcohol abuse. Of course, these can occur both in white- and blue-collar backgrounds or they can be absent in both.
This does not mean we have no way of knowing whether alcohol abuse is more common for employees or managers, however. One study reports that workers in white-collar roles are more likely to consume alcohol when compared to other workforce groups. The reasoning the study’s respondents shared includes a perception that unhealthy drinking levels were associated with the behavior of others, and their alcohol consumption was considered safe unless it limited their ability to fulfill work responsibilities.
However, industry statistics show that construction, mining, armed forces, and agricultural jobs see higher numbers of alcohol consumption compared to others. Traditionally, these are considered blue-collar jobs.
What do we make of evidence for and against? It seems no evidence exists to say whether more white or blue-collar workers abuse alcohol. There are too many types and subtypes to boil things down simply to a job title. However, the evidence does suggest a connection between stressful environments and alcohol abuse. White-collar jobs often deal with finances and managing people, and they are responsible for a company’s success.
The weight of responsibility and high expectations are often placed on managers. All these scenarios can lead to stress, anxiety, and an absence of stability at home. These are all contributing factors to alcohol abuse. In the same way, blue-collar jobs, such as construction, mining, and enlisted military personnel, are all considered hazardous and even deadly. These work environments can become increasingly stressful, and the ratio between physical demand and pay can cause many blue-collar workers to enter a depressive state. Again, these are contributing factors to alcohol abuse.
It seems the answer to this question can come from both directions because it has less to do with whether someone is a manager or employee and more to do with the kind of environment they are exposed to at work. Because of this, it’s important not to make assumptions about whether we are susceptible to alcohol abuse. Instead, we need to ensure that our work environment and support systems with friends and family work together to ensure we don’t fall prey to the detrimental outcomes of alcohol abuse.
National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. (n.d.) Alcohol Abuse Statistics. Retrieved https://drugabusestatistics.org/alcohol-abuse-statistics/
Delphi Health Group (n.d.) Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Treatment Guide. Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/alcohol/
Delphi Health Group. (n.d.).Demographics of Drug Abuse; Rates in Men vs. Women. Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/treatment-guide/men-women-drug-abuse/
Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Is Alcoholism Hereditary? What the Research Shows. Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/alcohol/hereditary/
NIH. (2012, October 23). The ‘other’ in patterns of drinking: A qualitative study of attitudes towards alcohol use among professional, managerial and clerical workers. Retrieved https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3524033/#:~:text=Background,about%20their%20views%20of%20drinking.
Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Drinking Habits by Industry. Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/drinking-habits-by-industry/
NIH. (2007, June 28). Researchers Identify Alcoholism Subtypes. Retrieved https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/researchers-identify-alcoholism-subtypes
Delphi Health Group. (n.d.) The Role of Family in Active Substance Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/addiction/family-role/