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The Case for a Booze-Free Office Party

Drinking at the office holiday party can cost you a day of work—or even your job—treatment experts warn.

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The "stomach flu" excuse might not fly.
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By Chrisanne Grise

11/27/12

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Drinking at the holiday office party can ruin your life—maybe forever, maybe just for the following morning. But most people do it anyways. A new study (as well as at least one episode of every sitcom ever aired) suggests that boozing with co-workers has a negative impact on employee health and work habits; according to the recent online survey of over 2,000 adults conducted by Caron Treatment Centers, 64% of Americans have called in sick or know someone else who has missed a day at work because of a hangover after a holiday party. As for those who have managed to crawl in the next day, almost half were hungover, or knew someone else who was. Most of these groggy employees say they had trouble being productive: 61% arrived late or left early, 54% said they “mentally checked-out” and 46% had trouble completing work-related tasks. December is of course an especially boozy time of year, with 75% of adults saying they drink to excess during the holidays. “Alcohol is often center stage at holiday parties,” Dr. Harris Stratyner, vice president of Caron Treatment Centers, tells The Fix. “People don’t feel like they can enjoy themselves and socialize without it, and unfortunately, there are some people who discover that one or two drinks is just not enough.”

Remaining sober around co-workers during off-hours may sound like a recipe for extreme awkwardness, but Stratyner suggests a sober office party is actually a seasonal gift for all involved. “The people in charge of the organization should perhaps consider not having alcohol,” he says, noting that a company may be liable if a drunk driver gets in an accident while leaving an office party. And if alcohol is available at a party, he advises individuals to monitor their own intake. “People need to take responsibility, that’s the key word,” he says. “If people know that they have a problem drinking, they need to take responsibility and not drink if alcohol is available at a party.“ He also claims that staying sober at an event (and consequently, being more productive the day after) could help your career—and even save your job. “These days, with the way the economy is, you’d have to be out of your mind to get drunk at an office party or even take the chance of getting inebriated because it’s so competitive,” he warns. “Don’t drink at office parties. It’s an hour or two out of your life, and if you can’t go without having a drink at an office party, you need to call a treatment center."

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