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Working 50+ Hours Per Month Raises Alcohol Abuse Risk Dramatically

posted 04:29 AM EST, Tue August 09, 2011
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People who work 50 or more hours per week are as much as three times more likely to develop a problem with alcohol as those who are unemployed.

Researchers in New Zealand say that people who work more than 50 hours per week are more likely than those who work more moderately to develop problems with alcohol abuse or alcoholism.

The research team, out of The University of Otago, used data from a study that had followed 1000 people born in Christchurch N.Z. in 1977 to the age of 30 in 2007. They found that:

  • People working 50 hours or more a week were 1.8 to 3.3 times more likely to develop alcohol problems than unemployed study subjects and 1.2 to 1.5 times more likely to develop alcohol problems that those who worked between 30 and 49 hours per week.
  • Both men and women working long hours were at risk for drinking problems.

Why Is Hard Work Associated with an Increased Risk for Alcohol Problems?

The researchers say they don’t know for sure why those who worked longer hours were at greater risk to get into trouble with alcohol, but they suspect that people working long hours may be more likely to use alcohol as a way to combat the stress of the workday.

Another explanation put forth by lead study author Sheree Gibb is based on the camaraderie that can develop between workmates who spend a lot of time together reach week, arguing, "Individuals who work longer hours may have more social contact with co-workers, and workplaces where long hours are commonplace may experience a more sociable atmosphere that involves a greater level of alcohol use.”

The study authors suggest a need for prevention programs targeted at those in the workplace who log very long hours each week.

The full study results will be published in the journal, Addiction.

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Story Highlights
  • Alcohol Abuse: People who work more than 50 hours per week are far more likely than those who work with moderation (or not at all) to develop a problem with alcohol
  • Stress Relief: People working long hours may turn to alcohol after work to relieve stress.
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