Work Hard, Play Hard Is Real and Potentially Dangerous

A new Harvard study says that workaholics are at risk to become alcoholics

Pretty much everyone after a long day at work, according to researchers

Many people believe (and live by) the idea that working hard means rewarding yourself and playing hard.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who espouse a “work hard, play hard” philosophy are not all talk, and are actually living by their motto. Researchers found that people who work more than 48 hours a week were more likely to drink at dangerous levels than their counterparts who worked fewer hours. Risky drinking was defined as women drinking more than 14 drinks per week and 21 for men.

The study found that the connection between long hours and increased alcohol consumption was consistent across socioeconomic classes, so a fast food worker with two jobs and a banker who work 60 hours will both consume more alcohol than their counterparts who don’t spend as much time working. Having a drink after a hard day or night of work to unwind is a universal experience, according to Cassandra Okechukwu, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

According to the study, the link between alcohol misuse and long work hours suggests that employers have a role to play in stemming alcohol abuse.

“If people are [engaging in] risky drinking, they don’t sleep well, they’re not as socially engaged,” Okechukwu wrote in an editorial accompanying the study. “It’s really important for work places to pay attention to the productivity of their workers and work environment.”

While the study points out that public health issues are associated with working long hours, it stops short of making policy recommendations. Across the Atlantic, the European Union Working Time Directive suggests that businesses should limit their employee’s weeks to 48 hours on the job. However, many people still work longer hours than the recommended limit.

But hey, as Jimmy Buffet once said, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”


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