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Understanding Alcoholism and the Service Industry

Alcoholism and the service industry are closely connected. In fact, the service industry has some of the highest rates of alcohol abuse and addiction of any profession. The service industry includes careers which provide services for clients in a variety of categories. Service industry professionals frequently engage people and meet the demands of their clientele. Service industry professions include:

  • Garbage collectors
  • Customer service representative (retail)
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Automotive services
  • Miners
  • General managers
  • Agriculture (gardeners, landscapers, farmers)
  • Food services (servers, hostesses/hosts, chefs, cooks, baristas, bartenders)
  • Construction laborers (roofers, dry wall installers)

Because of the high stress involved in many of these careers and the amount of time spent catering to the needs of customers, some drink to ease their anxiousness. A special problem for many service industry professionals is easy and constant access to alcohol, especially among restaurant, bar, and hotel workers. Additionally, consuming alcohol is a very accepted, and in many cases actively encouraged, part of the culture of many service industry workplaces.

Risk Factors for Alcoholism and Service Industry Professionals

According to surveys, miners, construction workers, and restaurant staff (including bartenders) are the professions which have the highest percentage of workers who drink heavily, all of which are in the service industry.

Miners have some of the highest exposure to dangerous job duties and risk of injuries sustained on the clock. Reports reveal 18 percent of miners binge drink, which is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks in under 2 hours for women or 5 or more drinks in under 2 hours for men. 16.5% of construction workers, who face similar danger and injury risk to miners, binge drink. Binge drinkers may not become full-blown alcoholics, but they are more likely to develop a tolerance, which can later become a dependency.

Bartenders have a higher risk of dying from alcoholism when compared to the rest of the working population. Bartenders are 2.33 times more likely to die from alcoholism than the average employee. Bartending involves possessing a high knowledge of alcohol, which encourages bartenders to drink in larger amounts. Their environment encourages a liberal view toward alcohol consumption, with unique stressors of the job and long shifts. Some pick up on a drinking habit that impairs their ability to function on the job, becoming alcohol dependent.

Other members of the service industry, such as garbage collectors, farmers, construction laborers, arts and entertainment employees, and painters are reported to be heavy drinkers, or have higher rates of alcoholism-related deaths.

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Co-Occurring Disorders, Alcoholism, and the Service Industry

Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, are underlying mental health conditions which impact addiction. Many service industry professionals with co-occurring disorders drink as a way to “self-medicate.” Unfortunately, alcohol use makes most mental health conditions more severe and damaging in the long run, and drinking to cope with symptoms of mental illness is one of the most likely ways to cause dependence.

A number of co-occurring disorders impact service industry professionals. Bartenders, for example, often feel anxious and stressed while managing demands of customers, and drink to ease the frustrations of a job. Service industry professionals often claim to drink to manage symptoms like stress, exhaustion, or depression, despite the fact that alcohol usually makes these conditions worse.

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While greater exposure to alcohol and binge drinking doesn’t automatically result in addiction, they do make alcoholism more likely. You may need intervention if you routinely drink more than 5 to 6 drinks per sitting, per day, have relatives suggest rehab, or you question or doubt your ability to control your alcohol intake.

Treatment professionals can assist individuals seeking treatment find the best facility for their needs. They provide information on budget-friendly options, and they can help the individual determine what therapies may be best for each patient. Don’t become another statistic about alcoholism and the service industry. Take a step toward sobriety, and contact a dedicated treatment provider today.


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If you or a loved one is ready to overcome an alcohol addiction, reach out today. Treatment providers can connect you with programs that provide the tools to help you get and stay sober.