According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, individuals who work long hours are actually more prone to heavy drinking. Researchers analyzed data from more than 330,000 subjects in 14 different countries.
They discovered that people who work for more than 47 hours a week were actually 11 percent more likely to indulge in heavy drinking. This translates to at least 21 drinks per week for men or 4 drinks per week for women. Since the study covered 14 countries, this means that two million people are drinking heavily due to their long working hours.
Study author Marianna Virtanen, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki said: “Although the risks were not very high, these findings suggest that some people might be prone to coping with excess working hours by habits that are unhealthy, in this case by using alcohol above the recommended limits (although) with this type of study, you can never fully prove the cause and effect relationship.”
Cassandra Okechukwu assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts who wrote an editorial on the study added: “The paper supports the longstanding suspicion that many workers may be using alcohol as a mental and physical painkiller, and for smoothing the transition from work to home.”
She continued: “Many workers are working long hours, and there are many efforts to curtail regulations against working long hours. However, policymakers should think carefully before exempting workers from restrictions on working long hours.”
The study notes that the “workplace is an important setting for the prevention of alcohol misuse, because more than half of the adult population are employed. Further research is needed to assess whether preventive interventions against risky alcohol use could benefit from information on working hours.”
Jack S. Chesney, Penn State University graduate and former journalist, has also researched heavy drinking. He concludes: “Pressure from work can make weaker people drink more than they can handle. I’m surprised in the significant difference in numbers between drinks consumed by men and women. Had this study been conducted in the US only, I would be willing to bet that the men would not look so much worse than the women. All things being equal . . . especially these days.”
Working Long Hours Results In Heavy Drinking