Industries With the Biggest Drink Problem

Drug and alcohol abuse costs the US economy billions each year, so unsurprisingly, the US takes a keen interest in monitoring the extent of such abuse. It has recently published data that reveals the extent of alcohol abuse in different industries, giving percentages of “heavy drinkers” in each industry, classified as those who drink  “five or more drinks either at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other, on five or more days in the past month”.

The combined data from the studies show that 8.7 percent of full-time workers aged between 18 and 64 in the 19 industries analysed drink heavily. The report, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that it isn’t those partial to the high life that  enjoy  a stiff drink, quite the opposite: those working low down in the mining industry with no life (let’s face it, there isn’t much going on in the  mines after hours) that have the worst  alcohol abuse.

And in what will come as a relief to those of us with children, the teaching profession has the lowest percentage of heavy drinkers. Have a look at the table below to find out which industries make the top 10 list of industries with a drinking problem.

The Top 10 Industries With "Heavy Drinkers"

Mining 17.5%
Construction 16.5%
Accommodation and Food Services 11.8%
Arts and Entertainment 11.5%
Utilities 10.3%
Wholesale Trade 10.2%
Management 9.9%
Manufacturing 9.7%
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting 9.4%
Retail Trade 9%



The study attributes high rates of alcohol abuse to demographic composition, with the construction industry appearing to be an anomaly. Research has shown that men drink more heavily than women, and the young are more likely to drink more when compared with older people. Therefore, if an industry is characterised by its being male dominated (as with the mining and construction industries), it is not surprising to see higher levels of alcohol abuse in that industry.

These figures are a concern as there is a wealth of data showing the damaging effect of alcohol. The effects of alcohol abuse are not just limited to the individual concerned, but affect all those around them. Alcohol dependence affects performance, leading to absences: several studies have shown that alcohol dependent people are more likely to be off on sick leave than their colleagues who are not similarly dependent on alcohol, for example.

Alcohol dependence has been linked to workplace accidents (in the UK a quarter of workplace accidents have been linked to alcohol intake) and studies have linked heavy drinking to reduced productivity. The effect of alcohol on health is well documented, and alcohol abuse can lead to unemployment that in turn can worsen the addiction.

If by reading the study you feel you may have a problem with your level of alcohol consumption, it is vitally important that you seek help. Your life will be vastly improved by stopping your dependence on alcohol.

See Also: How to deal with an alcoholic colleague

Are you surprised by any of these findings? Share your comments below.

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US Govt Report