High-Stress Careers and Drinking on the Job

high-stress careersDealing with the struggles of a high-stress career is something many people experience at some point in their lives. Some individuals can deal with these emotions by venting to friends or co-workers, recreational activities, or kicking back on a Friday night with some friends to de-stress from the workweek. So, how does someone who has become dependent on alcohol deal with the high-stress pressures of their career?

A common issue with this topic is that individuals often relate pleasurable or de-stressing activities to alcohol consumption. Whether it’s a social gathering where alcohol is present or someone just wants to take the edge off, alcohol consumption has become a go-to solution for many. It’s important for individuals struggling with alcohol dependency to find alternative ways to de-stress, especially concerning dealing with the pressures of their jobs. It would be beneficial for anyone to reconsider their means of de-stressing to improve their overall health and quality of life.

Alcoholism in the Workplace

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that almost 15 million Americans struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Employee alcohol use can hinder productivity, but more importantly, employee health. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) defines alcohol and drug dependence, from the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, as “primary, chronic diseases with genetic, psychological, and environmental factors,” and is characterized by the “use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortion in thinking, most notably denial.”

Alcoholism affects all parts of a person’s life. Most employers leave the decision to consume alcohol to the discretion of the employee. When alcohol use affects the employee’s job performance or ability to do their job, an employer will typically express concern. In those cases, managers, supervisors, human resources, and other people in charge are responsible for identifying alcohol dependency in the workplace, monitoring job performance, imposing necessary consequences, and referring their employees to treatment programs.

Some other actions employers will often take regarding alcoholism in the workplace include:

  • Involving Human Resources to potentially implement employee assistance programs
  • Hosting an intervention
  • Offering time off and allowing the employee to return post-treatment
  • Mandatory alcohol testing

Actions taken by employees can vary from individual and company, and it’s important to try not to burn bridges, as some companies will work with the employee to implement a treatment plan that will improve their health and overall quality of life. If you are struggling with alcohol dependence, reach out to your manager or supervisor.

Coping with Alcoholism

The journal Alcohol Research and Health discusses several models and paradigms to prevent problem drinking in the workforce. These paradigms and models can help people understand what can lead to alcohol dependency, including:

  • Social Control Paradigm implies two potential risk factors that contribute to alcohol dependency in the workforce. These risk factors are low levels of supervision and a decreased amount of observation of work behavior.
  • Culture and Availability Paradigm claims that access to alcohol in a work environment can encourage employee alcohol consumption. The availability of alcohol creates the potential situation for the employees to drink while on the job.
  • Alienation and Stress Paradigm puts forward the idea that physical and psychological demands and stresses of a work environment lead to employee alcohol use and dependency. These stresses include employer demands, employee job satisfaction, and struggles with interpersonal office relationships.

The article also seeks to “explain the relationship between work stress and alcohol consumption.” These models include:

  • The Simple Cause-Effect Model notes the relationship between work stressors and different forms of alcohol use, taking into account factors such as age, gender, income, and occupation.
  • The Meditation Model focuses on connecting the variables believed to connect work stresses to alcohol use, including sadness, anger, and an overall inability to relax. This model attempts to explore the “why” or “in what way” work may be causing an increase in alcohol use.
  • The Moderation Model looks at how work stressors interact with variables that put an employee at a greater risk of developing problems with alcohol to protect the employee. The model focuses on when and under what conditions work stresses are related to increased alcohol consumption.
  • The Moderated Mediation Model integrates aspects of the mediation and moderation models to ultimately explain how and when work stressors correspond to increased alcohol use.

Ultimately, the stress of a job can impact someone regardless of how high-stressed that career is considered to be. Understanding these stressors, and learning new ways to cope with them, is essential to find a work-life balance, especially when you’re in recovery.

Over the past few decades, research shows clear trends in the correlation between high-stress jobs and increases in alcohol consumption. Many people utilize alcohol to de-stress and unwind from a long week–or even a long day–of work. However, the transition from casual drinker to excessive can happen before one realizes it. If you, too, are struggling, please know that you are not alone. With almost 15 million Americans struggling with alcohol dependency each day, it’s a battle that’s more common than you may realize. At Lakehouse Recovery, we have the staff, resources, and the desire to help you with alcohol dependency. We will provide the support and compassion needed during your time of crisis and healing. If you or someone you love struggles with alcoholism and coping with a high-stress career, please reach out to us at (877) 762-3707 to learn more. Your path to recovery can start here today.