Alcoholism is a potentially fatal disease that is extremely painful for both individuals and their families to experience. Researchers in Finland, where alcohol-related illnesses and incidents are the most common cause of death in working-age adults, recently discovered a correlation between long working hours and alcoholism, which could shed new light on the condition.
The researchers studied 300,000 subjects from Europe, Australia and North America, and found that individuals working more than 48 hours per week are 11 percent more likely to consume alcohol at high-risk levels than those working an average 40-hour week. Researchers around the world have suggested numerous possible reasons for this correlation.
One theory is that work feeds the addictive centers of the brain in a way similar to alcohol.
"As stress increases the activity of brain regions responsible for drug seeking and craving, stressful work is often 'addictive' in itself," one psychologist told The Guardian. "This could be a self-perpetuating cycle – work causes stress, which renders people more prone to addictions to substances and work."
Others have suggested that alcoholics may seek out long hours to camouflage their unhealthy drinking habits, since the practice of drinking to relax and de-stress after a long workday makes drinking culturally acceptable. Or, increased stress at work may directly cause people to self-medicate by drinking heavily.
The authors of the study did not attempt to explain the correlation between long hours and alcoholism, but hope that their work will open new avenues for research in the future.
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, contact Fairwinds Treatment Center today. Founded over 25 years ago, Fairwinds is one of the premiere alcohol treatment centers in the nation, and has treated over 7,800 patients and their families over the course of its practice.
Fairwinds' founder and medical director, Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, is a nationally renowned board-certified psychiatrist who promotes holistic healing and long-term recovery through his dual diagnosis method of treatment.