14 Head Spinning Drinking At Work Statistics For 2023
Updated · May 20, 2023
Drinking alcohol at work may seem like a fun idea—until an accident happens or uncontrolled behavior gets you in serious trouble.
However, the consequences don’t always stop people from drinking and working at the same time. According to drinking at work statistics, about 15% of working adults in the US reported that they have used alcohol before or during their shifts.
Let’s keep looking at some more stats.
Mind-Boggling Drinking At Work Facts (Editor’s Choice)
- One in five attorneys struggles with a drinking problem.
- US companies spend between $33 billion and $68 billion yearly due to employee alcohol abuse.
- Bartenders are 2.33 times more likely to die from an alcohol-related death.
- In the US, 2.3 million employees drink before work.
- Around 8.9 million people admit that they drink during the workday.
- One in ten full-time employees struggles with some form of substance abuse.
- Alcohol use has contributed to 11% of workplace-related injuries and accidents.
Drinking at Work Statistics for 2022
As you’re probably figuring out already, having a drink before, during, and after work is far more common than one would imagine.
Sometimes that drink is for networking purposes, other times it’s a way to unwind after a long day at the office. The problem comes when the occasional drink after work becomes multiple drinks a day instead, even if that means showing up drunk to work.
Let’s see what substance abuse in the workplace statistics have to say.
1. Approximately 17 million adults in the US have an alcohol use disorder.
(Source: Workplace Mental Health)
Around 6% of working adults drink to the point of intoxication at least once a month. What’s more, 3% say that they do so one or more times per week.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
What is a common characteristic among chronic alcoholics?
People with AUD not only drink excessively, but they perceive it as a need and find it incredibly difficult to stop. Their lives revolve around drinking, so much so that they alter their activities (work, casual outings, errands, etc.) to enable their addiction.
2. Unemployed people are less likely to drink alcohol than those who do have a job.
(Source: Alcohol Rehab Guide)
It turns out that alcohol and work actually go together.
Out of the 123 million full-time US employees, 65% of those older than 18 say that they drink alcohol. For comparison, the same is true for only 53% of the unemployed people in the same age group.
This can be closely related to the fact that many people experience work-related stress and that having a steady income makes purchasing alcohol easier.
In terms of age, working adults who are younger than 25 are 2.5 times more likely to consume excessive amounts of alcohol.
3. Around 2.3 million people are going to work drunk.
(Source: PubMed NCBI)
According to the University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, about 2.3 million workers (which is 1.8% of the US workforce) have consumed an alcoholic beverage before going to work.
Also, about 8.9 million employees (7.1%) have drunk alcohol at work, and 11.6 million workers (9.23%) are no strangers to dealing with a hangover while performing their professional duties.
4. On average, people in the US spend $3,000 a year on after-work drinks.
Going out for a drink with your colleagues once the workday is done is perfectly harmless—until it’s not.
Drinking at work statistics show that 15% of employees are cool getting drunk in front of their boss, 10% say shots are in order when going for after-work drinks, and 14% admit to inappropriate behavior when intoxicated.
Add it all up, and you get the perfect recipe for an HR nightmare.
5. Nearly half of all full-time employees in the US have access to an EAP.
(Source: Alcohol Rehab Guide)
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) help workers and their families find their way back to a healthy lifestyle.
These programs are not specifically designed for those getting drunk at work—they usually deal with any and all personal issues that might affect your work productivity, including marriage problems, anxiety, grief, etc.—but they can certainly help when it comes to substance abuse.
That said, only 1% of workers actually use an EAP.
Multiple reasons, ranging from fear of stigma to simply not knowing they have access to this resource.
6. Healthcare costs related to alcohol use are no less than $25 billion per year.
(Source: Vertava Health)
Statistics show that healthcare costs for employees with alcoholic behaviors are almost double that of non-alcoholic workers.
Companies in the US spend anywhere between $33 billion and $68 billion yearly due to employees ill-using alcohol.
Furthermore, there are government programs in place to help people who lose their job because of substance abuse.
Back in 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249 billion. If you ask us, that’s one of the most startling drinking at work facts, especially when you compare it to how little they spend in the UK.
7. The costs related to AUD in the UK add up to ₤21 billion.
(Source: Public Health England)
If we break it down, statistics show that the National Health System (NHS) spends £3.5 billion treating people for alcohol-related conditions.
Plus, there’s an £11 billion expenditure on alcohol-related crime, and a £7 billion loss due to absenteeism, lost productivity, and unemployment due to alcohol-related reasons.
Workplace Alcohol Statistics - Professional and Personal Losses?
Drinking at work is tied to increased accident rates, premature death, theft, poor decision-making, and a poor working environment.
Statistics show that more than 20% of US employees were put in danger, injured, had to redo a project or work extra hours due to an alcoholic coworker.
But how can you know if somebody has a drinking problem when you don’t know them that well?
8. In the UK, 35% of workers have seen signs of alcoholism in a fellow colleague.
(Source: Psychology Today)
Some of the most noticeable signs of an alcoholic employee include smelling like alcohol, walking unsteadily, being sensitive to light, having bloodshot eyes, drinking from a concealed container, and using mints and mouthwash excessively.
People also demonstrate changes in mood and behavior. They’re typically irritable, tired, tense, and have difficulty concentrating.
Plus, they also have a pattern for absenteeism—they usually skip Fridays, Mondays, or the day after they get paid.
9. Absenteeism is 3-8 times greater among heavy drinkers.
(Source: Addiction Center)
The overconsumption of alcohol leads to poor work quality and a greater likelihood of being unproductive.
Those that have a drinking problem are more likely to call in sick, arrive late, take excessive breaks, sleep on the job, and leave work early.
But more than that, an employee drinking at work can cause an accident, putting themselves and others at risk.
10. Employees drinking on the job are 3.5 times more likely to be involved in accidents while working.
(Source: Alcohol Rehab Guide)
That said, some occupations have proven riskier than others when mixed with alcohol. For instance, stats show that bartenders are 2.33 times more likely than the average person to die from an alcohol-related death.
Drinking at work statistics show that the professionals who have a higher chance of dying due to alcohol-related reasons are shoe-machine operators (two times more likely), roofers (1.87 times), painters (1.85 times), cooks (1.75 times), and sailors (1.75 times).
Just to clarify, it’s not that people who have these occupations are statistically more likely to develop alcohol dependence, but that alcohol poses a greater risk at work for them.
In case you were wondering about the professions with the highest alcoholism rates, though…
11. One in every five lawyers has a drinking problem.
The legal profession has one of the highest rates of alcohol abuse, followed by the mining (17.5%), hospitality (11.8%), and art (11.5%) industries.
For comparison, if we keep looking at alcoholism by profession, only 4% of healthcare personnel report heavy alcohol consumption, whereas 7.4% of the people who work in the financial and insurance sector admit to heavy drinking.
But what is driving people towards alcohol abuse?
12. 27% of the employees say that the stress in the workplace makes them drink more.
(Source: Aspen Ridge Recovery Centers)
Aside from stress, some of the most common reasons for substance abuse are isolation, low job satisfaction, fatigue, repetitive tasks, periods of inactivity and boredom, as well as long, irregular shifts.
Plus—here comes one of the drinking at work facts you had probably already guessed— COVID-19 made things worse.
Although 53% of remote workers claim they feel less stressed than at the office, stats show that 32% of employees are more prone to drinking while working since the pandemic started.
We suppose the anxiety and isolation combined with the convenience of alcohol delivery services and the low chances of getting caught drinking at work made the temptation too hard to resist.
13. Nebraska has the lowest alcohol consumption rate in the US—13%.
Stats show that the states where most workers admitted to drinking on the clock were Alaska (67%), Maine (60%), and New Mexico (56%).
On the other side of the spectrum, the states that boast the lowest rates (aside from Nebraska) are Massachusetts, Arkansas, and South Dakota, each with 15-16%.
14. In Australia, 20% of households bought more alcohol during lockdowns.
Furthermore, 34% of those households admitted to drinking alcohol every day, and 28% had no qualms about doing it alone.
But even before the pandemic came into our lives, one in every 20 Australian workers owned up that they've been drinking and working at least at some point in their lives.
In fact, 11% of workplace accidents in the country are due to alcohol use.
So, is it bad to drink at work?
Yes, even if it’s not as uncommon as it should be.
In general, a drinking problem can lead to a variety of psychological, social, and medical problems. But being intoxicated while at work also poses a risk to other people in the company, and even to the company itself.
Ironically, and as we can see from the drinking at work statistics above, high levels of stress and long working hours don’t help matters at all.
Luckily, many organizations have started addressing this problem by implementing workplace alcohol policies.
These are designed to make sure employees are sober during working hours, as well as to identify and try to help the employees that require support.
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