Long Working Hours Linked to Increased Risky Alcohol Use

free essayExtensive research has been conducted to establish the link between long working hours and increased risky alcohol use among individuals. It is vital to understand the relationship between long working hours and alcohol consumption of different groups of individuals including adolescents, men, and women. Risky alcohol consumption exposes individuals to numerous health problems including mental disorders, cancer, liver diseases, coronary heart diseases, and liver diseases. Men working long hours are likely to engage in risky alcohol consumption taking 21 drinks per week while women working long hours take more than 14 drinks per week. The obvious relationship between long working hours and risky alcohol consumption is often catalyzed by the need to relieve work stress and associated workplace difficulties such as performance pressure and occupational injuries. Overall, individuals are more likely to indulge in risky alcohol intake with the increase in the number of working hours. It must also be understood that men are more tempted to consume more alcohol with the increasing working hours compared to women.

Virtanen et al. (2015) conducted a systematic review to establish the nexus between the long working hours and risky alcohol consumption among individuals. They engaged in a systematic search of PubMed to carry out prospective and cross-sectional studies highlighting the relationship between working hours and alcohol consumption. The cross-sectional analysis used by Virtanen et al. (2015) relied on 61 articles involving 333,693 participants from 14 countries. On the other hand, prospective analysis of Virtanen et al. (2015) covered 20 studies with 100,602 participants from 9 countries. The results of the cross-sectional analysis indicated that increased working hours led to 11%increase in alcohol consumption among individuals. Virtanen et al. (2015) prospective analysis indicated that there was12% increase in alcohol consumption in cases of longer working hours. Virtanen et al. (2015) found out that individuals working more than 48 hours a week had higher likelihood of engaging in risky alcohol consumption compared to those who worked 35-40 hours per week. The findings indicated that there was no difference in reactions regarding sex, economic status, or age. Long working hours would increase the chance of alcohol consumption among individuals. Virtanen et al. (2015) recommends to stick to the European Union Working Time Directive (EUWTD) prescribing less than 48 working hours per week to alleviate the indulgence of individuals in risky alcohol consumption.

The research by Cheng, Cheng, Huang, and Chen (2012) focused on the examination of work characteristics and the dependence of individuals on alcohol. The study was conducted on 13,501 men and 8,584 women who were asked to fill in a questionnaire related to their drinking habits, their consumption of alcoholic energy drinks, occupation, type of employment, and the number of psychosocial work stressors they encounter in their respective occupations. According to the results of Cheng et al. (2012), 9.4% of men and 0.8% of women were CAGE positive in terms of alcohol consumption. Again, the results of the study by Cheng et al. (2012) revealed that 38.7% of men were alcohol dependent because of long working hours while 23.3% of women depended on alcohol worked long hours. However, the rate of alcohol dependency varies across different occupations. For instance, Cheng et al. (2012) affirm that men and women working as casual laborers more than 40 hours per week in challenging work environment have higher alcohol dependency. The general conclusion was that men tend to have a higher rate of alcohol dependency compared to women in similar occupations because of their inability to deal with long working hours’ stressor in the most effective manner. This research is limited to its cross-sectional nature, as it affects the ability of researchers to interpret the real cause of alcohol dependency among individuals working longer hours.

Vasse, Nijhuis, and Kok (1998) conducted a cross-sectional survey to establish the association between different work stressors or individual stress, and alcohol consumption among individuals. This research was based on a Worksite Health Project including the Health Promotion Program and Employee Assistance Program. The study was strengthened by the fact that it involved both blue-collar and white-collar employees. According to Vasse, Nijhuis, and Kok (1998), the blue-collar employees were from two Municipal Garbage Collecting Departments while the white-collar workers were from a Pharmaceutical Company. The results of the study indicated that long working hours would always lead to stress. Both blue-collar and white-collar employees taking part in the research were exposed to some level of stress while subjected to longer than their normal working hours. This made them engage in alcohol consumption with the belief that it would help alleviate their stress level. Moreover, Vasse, Nijhuis, and Kok (1998) agreed that men were more likely to fall into the alcohol trap under stress of long working hours. Unmarried men were more likely to fall into alcohol consumption because of the lack of social support on their part. This research is limited by the lack of prospective approach that would have been instrumental in the explication of the relationship between long working hours and the employees’ indulgence in alcohol consumption.

It is always crucial to identify the relationship between daily work stressors and the tendency of employees to engage in the consumption of alcohol. The study by Butler, Dodge, and Faurote (2010) focused on the study of the nexus between work stressors and alcohol consumption among 106 employed college students for 14 consecutive days. This study was guided by the hypothesis that increased work stressors would increase alcohol consumption among college students, especially men. The study was also based on the tension reduction theory, which affirms that individuals tend to consume alcohol with the intention of reducing stress. This also applies to college students, especially men working longer hours. The primary findings of the study indicated that college students tended to drink more when they were subjected to longer working hours. For instance, Butler, Dodge, and Faurote (2010) affirm that part-time work is vital for college students, but it leads to higher stress in situations when these students work over 39 hours per week. They are always exposed to stresses, and believe that they can only alleviate them drinking. Again, the trend is more common among men compared to women. This study was limited to the small group of students from a medium-sized college. This makes it difficult to come up with a firm conclusion about the relationship between long working hours and alcohol consumption.

The study by Steinberg, Fegley, and Dornbusch (1993) also explicated the effect of part-time employment and the number of working hours on 1,800 sophomore and high school students in California and Wisconsin. The survey was conducted on two consecutive days to establish the effect of working hours on alcohol consumption among students. One of the most significant results indicated that part-time employment was positive for these students because it enabled them to actively participate in other activities. This shifted them from the primary focus on their academics. Another vital result revealed that part-time work stretching to 20 hours was negative for the students because it increased their chances of alcohol consumption. Twenty hours are extremely strenuous for students because they find it difficult to concentrate on their academic work and other areas of their lives. The stresses that come along with working over 20 hours every week make them more vulnerable in terms of alcohol abuse. Steinberg, Fegley, and Dornbusch (1993) recommend the employers to moderate working hours for adolescent students in high school and at sophomore level. This research was limited by the little time taken to study the behavior of students in terms of alcohol consumption when exposed to long working hours. Longer study would have presented reliable results to back up the findings and enhance their future application.

In another study, Steptoe et al. (1998) researched the well-being of employees in a large store, retail industry, in the United Kingdom. According to Steptoe et al. (1998), this was based on the understanding that store workers constitute 8.6% of the working population in the U.K. Steptoe et al. (1998) used a sample of 71 workers with 27 men and 44 women in the confirmation of their thesis. They obtained measures of the relationship between working hours and alcohol consumption over a period of six months. In the study, Steptoe et al. (1998) changed the mean working hours per week from 32.6 to 48 hours among these people. The first significant result indicated that female workers consumed more cigarettes when they were subjected to longer working hours. The second result brought out the view that men with limited social support tended to consume more alcohol when exposed to over 48 working hours. Therefore, the number of working hours has more effect on the behavior of employees than the amount of work they are expected to do. The overall result was that men with lower social support had a stronger tendency to consume alcohol after working long hours every week as this serves as a stress reliever. Other factors such as socio-economic status do not affect these behaviors among individuals. The only limitation of the research is that it does not consider different jobs. This eliminates the chance of comparing employees’ behaviors regarding various jobs.

Okechukwu (2015) relied on the initial study by Virtanen et al. (2015) to explain the relationship between working hours and alcohol consumption among individuals. The relationship between working hours and alcohol is explained from the point of view that employees working long hours face diverse time constraints and can only rely on alcohol as a quick mental and physical analgesic to overcome their stresses. One of the key findings of Okechukwu’s study was that increase in working hours from 8 to 12 hours per day affected mental and physical abilities of employees. Therefore, they would always resort to alcohol to seek a solution to their work-related stresses. Okechukwu (2015) also noted that working hours increased to 12 hours per day are likely to increase injury by 25% for day shift workers and 55% for night shift workers. Such factors increase stress levels among these workers, and alcohol is the only solution to these injury-related stresses emanating from long hours. In fact, these statistics apply to both casual and non-casual employees all over the world. Apart from increase in the level of alcohol consumption, long working hours also play a significant role in staff turnover among these employees. This research is limited by the fact that it depends on initial research and lacks effective primary research to justify the statistics.

The research by Paschall, Flewelling, and Russell (2004) focused on the explication of the relationship between the intensity of work (number of working hours) and the reliance on alcohol among adolescents. Two waves of in-home interview data were used regarding a sample of adolescents who had participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The study was based on the hypothesis that there was a positive relationship between work intensity and the rate of alcohol consumption among adolescents. The results by Paschall, Flewelling, and Russell (2004) indicated that working more than 20 hours per week led the adolescents interviewed to heavy drinking. The overall conclusion was that more than 10 hours of working every week expose adolescents to increased drinking. They should not be allowed to work more than 10 hours per week because of the rapid increase in the stress levels of adolescents. In fact, work settings that imply more hours expose them to more adults and peer who drink, hence leading them in the same direction. They copy these behaviors and move with them into the future. From this study, it is clear that there are similar patterns of behavior among adults and adolescents. This research is limited by its inadequate explanation of the relationship between work intensity and the level of alcohol consumption.

Frone (2008) explored the relationship between work-related stressors and work overload among the U.S. workforce. Frone (2008) gathered data from a sample of 2,790 members of the U.S. workforce where they had to explain the effect of such stressors on their behaviors and the tendency to alcohol consumption. The hypothesis was that employees looked forward to reducing work-related tension with the consumption of alcohol. Most of the tension is likely to come about when they are subjected to long working hours. The findings of the study revealed that most employees were likely to consume alcohol after long working hours. In the course of working, employees always suffer from diverse work stressors such as self-evaluation and self-image. In fact, the level of alcohol consumption is always lower before employees get to work. According to Frone (2008), they consume more alcohol after long day working. The direct involvement of employees in different areas of work during their long day is always likely to expose individuals to drug use and alcohol consumption patterns. The study is limited by the use of cross-sectional data that did not provide effective explanation of the development of work stressors and the need to consume alcohol to alleviate stressors among employees. Moreover, the use of self-reports of alcohol consumption might not have been a reliable means to obtain the desirable results. The field study would have been more effective in this aspect.

Jones, O’Connor, Conner, McMillan, and Ferguson (2007) sampled 640 respondents with a view to understanding the effect of daily mood and working hours on employees. In the study by Ferguson (2007), 422 participants (227 female, 193 male) completed questionnaires about their behaviors in terms of their work. The most significant findings of the study proved that long working hours affected the mood of employees. Their moods are likely to change with the increasing working hours. Women always feel the most intensive effect in terms of working hours. Jones, O’Connor, Conner, McMillan, and Ferguson (2007) confirm that most women and men would prefer cooling down their moods with drugs such as alcohol to ensure that they are effectively relaxed. The health behaviors of employees are directly related to their working hours on a daily basis. The worst thing is that stress increases with each day of working, as they get frustrated at work-related tension they experience. The lack of stable features of work design contributes to the increased change of moods and the subsequent engagement in the consumption of alcohol. This study was limited by the fact that it relied on self-reports that might not have given an accurate picture of the alcohol consumption patterns. The overall emphasis that moods are affected by long working hours is a positive indication of the study’s focus to explicate the increasing level of alcoholism with respect to long working hours.

In another study, Frone (1999) aimed at comparing work stress and alcohol use among employees. There is always a general drop in the work performance of employees who depend on alcohol. Frone (1999) relied on various theories to explicate employee’s reliance on alcohol in the performance of their work. The social paradigm indicates the loss of morale among employees who might feel alienated in the workplace. Employees tend to lose morale when exposed to undesirable work conditions such as long working hours. The primary finding of the study were that employees felt alienated and stressed when they were exposed to tight working schedules and longer working hours. This leaves them with no option, but to depend on alcohol to relieve these stresses. It is vital for organizations to come up with favorable working schedules that do not expose employees to unnecessary stress and pressure. This would play an assistive role in increasing productivity and avoiding a drinking binge among the workforce. According to Frone (1999), alcohol is seen as the only measure to cope with work-related stress and pressure of long-hour working. The research is limited in the sense that it only relies on employees from one area. Studying employees’ reactions across different areas of work would have been instrumental in effective understanding of the behavioral aspects of employees.

Health reports also provide perfect understanding of the relationship between long working hours and the rate of alcohol consumption among employees. The research by Beaudet, Devereaux, and Riggs (1999) focused on the health records from Canada and other countries, such as Japan. The main aim was to investigate the relationship between long working hours and the health of employees in these respective countries. Beaudet, Devereaux, and Riggs (1999) confirms that the data used in the research was derived from the National Population Health Survey (NPHS), and entailed a randomly selected sample of 27,263 households. According to Beaudet, Devereaux, and Riggs (1999), the results of the study revealed that long working hours going beyond 40 hours always affect both men and women. They affect their health and lead to depression. The growing depression levels tempt both men and women to indulge in alcohol. For instance, men working more than 55 hours every week are always swayed into alcoholism to relieve their work pressure and stress. This research is limited by the fact that it only relies on health records that might not have been appropriate to the study that required field participation and involvement.

Lastly, the research by Thorlindsson and Vilhjalmsson (1991) focused on the explanation of factors that increase alcoholism and cigarette smoking among Icelandic adolescents. It relied on the data on the behavior of Iceland adolescents collected by national authorities. The sample collected by Thorlindsson and Vilhjalmssson (1991) comprised 1,200 adolescents aged between 15 and 16, and they were asked to fill in a questionnaire relating to factors that push different ways of their behavior. In the results, Thorlindsson and Vilhjalmsson (1991) show that there is always a positive relationship between long working hours and alcohol consumption among adolescents. They lack social control of their lifestyles, and would always find themselves indulged in alcohol consumption if they are subjected to over 20 hours of working per week. In fact, they are likely to influence each other, hence increasing the prevalence of the behavior. This study was limited by the use of cross-sectional study that could not bring out a clear causal effect of alcohol consumption among adolescents.

In conclusion, it is clear from the above studies that there is a direct relationship between the number of working hours and the rate of alcohol consumption among employees. Long working hours increase the level of alcohol consumption among employees because of the related workplace stress that emerge from the excessive working time. These studies also agree on the view that men are more prone to engage in the consumption of alcohol compared to women. Long working hours have more effect on men with less social support (unmarried men) hence pushing to address their work stresses and depression with alcohol. These statistics are not different for adolescents. Adolescents working more than 20 hours every week suffer from stress and indulge in binge drinking to solve their work-related stress. Overall, the direct relationship between long working hours and the rate of risky alcohol consumption calls for urgent reorganization of work designs in organizations. Employees would experience fewer health problems if they work in line with the standard time of 40-48 hours per week.