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What are the Occupations with the Highest Rates of Alcoholism?

While alcoholism can impact all ages and backgrounds, some occupations have exceptionally high rates of alcoholism.

And while stereotypes may suggest that alcoholism is most common among minimum wage or uneducated employees, this is not necessarily true.

Research suggests that middle-class workers consume more alcohol than other groups within the workforce.

Studies suggest that while adverse circumstances can be a predictor of alcoholism, factors such as stress, lack of control at work, and isolation play a large role in driving certain professions into high-risk relationships with alcohol.

Understanding Occupations with the Highest Rates of Alcoholism

While alcoholism and mental health crises can be found in all occupations, there appear to be some predicting factors that increase employees’ likelihood in certain professions experiencing alcohol addiction.

These factors include:

  • Long hours
  • Job insecurity
  • Unfulfilling work
  • Unrealistic workloads
  • Workplace conflict
  • Workplace hazing or harassment
  • Unclear performance expectations
  • Lack of advancement opportunity
  • Easily available alcohol
  • Poor treatment from public

Effects of Occupations with High Rates of Alcoholism

Depression, anxiety, and mental health crisis can develop in any individual, regardless of their professional field.

However, there are some professions in which alcoholism seems especially prevalent due to a combination of factors.

Those fields include:


Though mining is less common as a profession than it once was, it is still one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

Explosions, mine collapses, and chemical exposures take lives suddenly every year, while exposure to dust and carcinogens result in cancer, cognitive issues, and slow debilitation in many others.

Furthermore, research indicates that the average U.S. miner receives an hourly wage of $25.13. While that is a higher rate than some of the other professions on the list, it is relatively low for the dangerous conditions.

Mining is not necessarily considered to be a high prestige job in keeping with societal expectations and it is not necessarily a long-term growth industry. This creates a “perfect storm” of stress, resource scarcity, and danger that can drive miners to high-risk behavior.


Construction culture is not dissimilar to that of mining. While construction jobs are not necessarily as dangerous in the United States as mining jobs, they can be physically demanding, relatively monotonous, and have lower advancement rates than other professions.

Unfortunately, construction is sometimes perceived as a low value in society, driving construction workers to receive dismissive treatment.

This can create a culture in which construction workers “play hard,” to make up for day-to-day frustrations.


Alcoholism and drug abuse are surprisingly common among the healthcare professions for several reasons.

Depending on the field, medical staff can easily work 14-16 hours while treating patients amid painful and high-stress circumstances. Medical staff see a high rate of physical trauma, grave illnesses, domestic violence, and pediatric tragedies compared to non-medical employees.

As a coping strategy, front line clinicians are known to adopt tough exteriors, compartmentalizing their feelings, and denying the need to talk. This can result in depression, relationship failures at home, alcohol, drug use, and even suicide.


While there are always examples of famous bartenders making thousands of dollars a night for their services, most bartenders are low paid, lacking insurance, and susceptible to verbal abuse and sexual harassment from patrons.

But in addition to these issues, cultural issues can play a role in the likelihood of bartenders becoming alcoholics.

In many establishments, bartenders are expected to project a fun, party attitude, regardless of how they feel, and may even be pressured to drink on the job to make patrons feel at home.

These factors combined can lead to a high rate of alcoholism among bartenders and barriers to seeking treatment.


This is a broad industry, encompassing customer service positions in hotels, restaurants, and tourism businesses.

These jobs are notoriously low paying and can subject employees to long hours and disrespect from customers. They can also be jobs with low prospects for advancement because the respective company may be subject to budget restrictions and closure.

Additionally, alcohol is frequently available at these jobs, allowing for easy access to those who are facing depression or anxiety.


Police officers often face brutal working conditions, including long hours, holiday work, dangerous assignments, mistreatment from the public, PTSD, and frustrating, even heartbreaking scenarios.

Officers also often report frustration and feelings of helplessness at work because many of the situations they respond to are beyond their control to prevent, such as repeated domestic violence responses.

Research also indicates that, as a means of bonding and coping with stress, law enforcement may have a dynamic that “enculturates” newer members to see high-risk drinking as an aspect of peer connection.


Firefighters also statistically have a higher likelihood to suffer from alcoholism. This result from several factors, including long hours, intense pressure, danger, PTSD, loss of colleagues, and cultural norms.

As a coping strategy for daily pressures, many firefighters develop a “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality – and the effect is shocking.

A 2012 study suggested that roughly 30% of firefighters struggle with alcohol use, more than double that of the typical population.

Mental Illness and Occupations with High Rates of Alcoholism

While mental illness can be a precursor to alcohol abuse, alcohol use can also have mental health consequences.

Excessive alcohol consumption can result in anxiety, mood changes, memory loss, reasoning issues, depression, feelings of hopelessness, loss of motivation, and worsening mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder and suicidal ideation.

Unfortunately, because of the serious biochemical effects of alcoholism, some of these mental health consequences can remain for months or years after treatment.

However, the body is designed to heal, and hormone and brain chemical levels usually return to normal with time.

Treatment for Occupations with High Rates of Alcoholism

It is no coincidence that occupations with high alcoholism risks also commonly have internal cultures that emphasize toughness, stoicism, and a reluctance to talk about your feelings.

Many of these individuals imagine that, if they are truly “strong,” they can stop drinking whenever they want. But, this is usually not the case at all.

Alcoholism is a disease and requires effective treatment to manage its symptoms and the underlying cause(s).

And, BriteLife Recovery can help you break the cycle.

There is no stigma in seeking help, and there are many effective treatments that can help you regain control of your life.

These programs include:

  • Medical Detox
  • 12-step programs
  • Inpatient Alcohol Rehabilitation
  • Counseling
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Nutrition Therapy
  • Non-12-step and holistic rehab options
  • Long-term rehabilitation arrangements
  • Aftercare

These services can be private and discrete, helping you come to terms with your journey in an on-site, judgment-free environment.

You will work with an experienced team to develop a treatment plan for your recovery, consisting of measurable goals and strategies to help you replace unhealthy behaviors with positive alternatives.

There may also be prescriptions that can help counter the impact of depression and chemical imbalances, giving you the strength needed to persist with your treatment and begin to feel like yourself again.

Quitting alcohol is a long road, but the rewards are plentiful and well worth it. And with professional help, you can live a happy life free from alcohol – for yourself, your family, and your career.

Payment Options

Do you want treatment but are worried about how you can pay for it?

We have a team of financial professionals who provide free insurance verification.

We will work with you to determine how to move forward with the treatment in a way that works for you and your financial situation.

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