Career ladder alcohol woman

Is Alcohol Destroying Your Career?

Is everyone talking about what you did on the last work night out? Your reputation could be suffering and your career along with it.

We look at the seven hidden ways alcohol could be killing your career and what you can do about it.

Your Image at Work

While being a moderate drinker can sometimes help with socializing and networking, getting frequently drunk at work events can be seriously bad for your image.

If you are representing the company with clients, then it can make a bad impression or even lose business. 

You are more likely to do or say something embarrassing when drunk, impacting how people see you. Companies don’t want to risk putting someone front and centre if they are prone to embarrassing behaviour due to alcohol.

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Reliability and Alcohol

Research by the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education found that heavy drinkers are perceived as stigmatizing. People who drink excessively are regarded as less reliable and less able than moderate drinkers. 

The person in question didn’t need to be an alcoholic to be disapproved of by their peers and work colleagues. 

Being less reliable might be fine in some workplaces. Or it might be overshadowed by other features, but in many lines of work where being careful and consistent are vital, it can be a real career killer. 

man drinking at work

Missing Work Because of Drinking

Heavy drinkers who frequently use alcohol are more likely to be absent from work regularly than those who drink only occasionally. 

There are a few reasons people who drink heavily are more likely to be absent from work:

  • Feeling ill or hungover
  • Injuries or accidents due to being intoxicated
  • Poor general health
  • Worse work-life balance

While you might get away with missing work by taking sick leave and providing excuses, these do not usually make you a prime candidate for promotion.

Mental Health and Alcohol

Alcohol has a short and long-term negative effect on your brain. It can lead to higher rates of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty socializing sober
  • Stress
  • Fatigue

Mental health can impact our career prospects in many areas. It can cause higher stress levels, leaving an employee less able to deal with high-pressure situations. 

Fatigue can lead to lower productivity, and anxiety makes us less likely to take on challenging work and aim higher for promotions. 

Heavy Drinking Professions

Some job types actively encourage drinking as part of the lifestyle or social circle at work.

A 2021 study by the BMC Public Health found that pub owners and workers had the highest number of heavy drinkers. This should come as no surprise, but it could hurt the business and careers of those involved. 

Bar workers and pub owners who drink excessively at work are more likely to take risks with licensing and other regulations. They are also more relaxed about payment and may make mistakes or allow others to take advantage of them financially. 

Worryingly, jobs such as construction, mechanics and chemical workers are also high on the list. These are all jobs with a high level of risk and long hours of physical labour. 

statistics drinking and professions

Drinking and Networking

Drinking is a large part of UK culture, making it hard to socialize with colleagues and clients if you don’t drink. 

Although moderate drinkers are seen as better than teetotalers, light drinkers and non-drinkers are more socially appealing than heavy, frequent users of alcohol. 

Alcohol and networking go together with some careers, particularly corporate roles, hospitality and construction. Others, such as teaching, medical and science career paths, on the other hand, tend to look poorly on drinking, especially if you are often drunk or hungover in public.       

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Work Nights Out

Tales of drunken shenanigans on work nights out are often around the office water cooler. Some workplaces take them better than others. It is best not to be the subject of workplace gossip if you want to move up. 

We are also likelier to air grievances or have inappropriate relationships when drunk. These are both issues when it comes to thinking about your career. Moderate drinking, however, shows you have willpower and can enjoy yourself without overdoing it.

Social Media and Alcohol

You have probably seen endless examples of employers discovering employee secrets on Facebook. Whether taking a fake sick day or making unwise comments online, everyone knows their boss might be watching. 

It isn’t just unwanted photos posted of drunken nights out, either. We are less inhibited when we drink, so you could make unwise statements or comments even if you just drink at your keyboard or phone.

Alcohol glass symbolism wake up

How to Cut Down on Drinking for Your Future

Most heavy drinkers are not alcoholics but have alcohol as part of their habits and lifestyle. Cutting down can make a world of difference to your life if this is the case and prevent you from ever spiralling into alcohol addiction. 

There are many great ways to reduce your drinking, and our site is a wealth of information on the subject. Below are some of our team’s recommendations for a more moderate take on drinking for your career and happiness.

  • What else makes you happy? Exercise, good food, nature, artistic pursuits and hobbies are all great ways to keep your mind off drinking and give that endorphin boost while you are at it.
  • Don’t buy alcohol. If you pick up a bottle when it is available, then not keeping alcohol at home can help you resist temptation and waking up for work the next day won’t be such a struggle.
  • Stay healthy. People interested in health and fitness are less likely to drink excessively. Good nutrition, detox supplements and an active lifestyle naturally reduce alcohol intake.
  • Don’t self-medicate with alcohol. If you use alcohol to deal with social anxiety, low mood or boredom, it can lead to worsening mental health, impacting the positive direction of your life. 

How Alcohol Detox Supplements Help

If you are struggling with alcohol and feel it is impacting your career, cutting it down could be the best career decision you ever make. Alcohol cravings can be challenging for anyone who is used to drinking frequently.

Desistal was designed to help your body return to healthy mental well-being and physical strength. Reducing cravings and aiding in anxiety and stomach problems can help you feel the positive benefits of cutting down on alcohol sooner.

Associations between occupation and heavy alcohol consumption in UK adults

MALOUFF, J., SCHUTTE, N. S., & PAYNE, P. (1992). The Negative Social Perceptions of Being a Heavy Drinker. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education