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Do workaholics turn to alcohol to relax?

People who work very hard often tend to drink more alcohol. This is the conclusion of an international metastudy. The researchers evaluated 61 different studies which together covered 334,000 participants from 14 countries to determine average working hours and amounts of alcohol consumed. 20 other studies studying a total of 100,000 participants from nine countries looked at the question of how drinking patterns changed in correlation with their workload.

People who work a lot tend to drink a lot too

The data showed that people who work at least 49 hours a week, tend to have levels of alcohol consumption that are injurious to their health. For women, excessive alcohol consumption is defined as over 14, for men over 21, drinks a week. A small glass of schnapps, a glass of beer or an eighth of a litre of wine constitute “one drink”. The probability of developing a risky level of alcohol consumption also rose in line with the heavier workload. Participants who worked 49 to 54 hours a week had a 13% higher risk of an unhealthily high alcohol consumption than people whose worked on average between 35 and 40 hours a week. For people who worked more than 55 hours a week, the risk was 12% higher. These results were independent of gender, age, ethnicity and social environment. Possible results of excessive alcohol consumption include liver and heart disease, cancer, stroke and psychological problems. More research is planned to substantiate the findings. One reservation that the researchers mentioned was that the working hours cited were simply the hours the participants said they worked rather than being objectively clocked.

Healthier alternatives for switching off

The assumption is that people who are working very hard, turn to alcohol in order to switch off after an arduous and stressful working day. That’s understandable, but there are healthier ways of relaxing, for example relaxation techniques like yoga, a workout in the gym, meeting up with friends or picking up a good book and a cup of tea.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de