Is Your Job Driving You to Drink?

By Kenneth Garger 08/09/11

Working over 50 hours a week greatly increases your chances of becoming alcohol dependent.

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Here's a good reason to leave work early today: People who work 50 hours or more a week are at greatly-increased risk of developing alcohol-related problems, according to a new study from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Over 1000 participants—all of them born in Christchurch, New Zealand—were monitored between the ages of 25 and 30. Those slaving away for 50 hours or more per week were between 1.8 and 3.3 times likelier to become alcohol dependent than their unemployed counterparts—confounding a commonly-held stereotype. Workaholics were also 1.2-1.5 times more vulnerable than their slacker co-workers—who put in 30-49 hours per week—and the differences apply to both genders. The study's lead author, Dr. Sheree Gibb, suggests there is a need to target alcohol programs toward people who work long hours. The correlation between longer working weeks and alcohol consumption has been noted before. When a UK survey from 2008 found that one in three employees admitted being hungover at work, Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, blamed it on stress-heavy lifestyles: "This is not about social drinking. This is about the long-hours culture we have in this country,” he said. Try telling that to the boss.

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Ken Garger is a reporter for the New York Post. You can follow him on Twitter.