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Friday, August 17, 2012

Unemployment And Binge Drinking: Is There A Connection?

Karolinska Institutet, infart från Solnavägen
Karolinska Institutet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Medical research, like most research, is always open to interpretation; however, the one constant is that research results make us think, ask questions and evaluate how we view affected situations. In the field of addiction, and particularly alcoholism, research is ongoing, because the truth is we are always learning and observing what we think might be causes of the baffling disease of addiction. The emotional, physical, psychological and financial toll on the individual addict and society, as a whole, is almost incomprehensible.

If you have been employed, either for large or small company (or even self employed managing your own employees), then no doubt you have witnessed firsthand the impact that the disease of addiction can have on you, other employees, work product, and the addict. Often other people need to pick up the slack, attempt to intervene with the addict, or simply fire the one who shows up late for work, calls in absent, suffers a work injury and even drives up the cost of everyone's health insurance coverage. But now with the ongoing world-wide recession and resulting long-term unemployment researchers are trying to determine if there is any connection between binge drinking and long-term unemployment.

In the November 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research the results of a new study analyzes binge drinking as either a predictor or outcome of unemployment. Early review indicates that binge drinking among women seems to have a significant association with long-term unemployment.

This study looked at data from 13,031 Swedish residents (males accounted for 45% of those studied). Residents in the studied ranged in age of 20 to 59. Some were currently employed or on leave. Researchers collected data in 2002 and again in 2007. One question dealt with binge drinking. The corresponding author for the study was Mona C. Backhans, a postdoctoral researcher at the Karolinska Institutet. A good review of this research can be seen at Medical Xpress.
"For women, binge drinking once a week or more as a predictor was associated with long-term unemployment," said Backhans. "For both men and women, initial associations between frequent binges and any unemployment were explained by the characteristics of the binge drinkers – younger, lower educational qualifications – and in addition for men, more previous unemployment."
Research will continue and it needs to continue, most particularly because often women have not been part these types of studies. What the researchers noted is that for women binge drinking clearly preceded unemployment, as opposed to unemployment preceding binge drinking. Lesson: Make an effort to seek treatment for your problem drinking before you find yourself unemployed. Many companies have Employee Assistance Programs which will help struggling employees to get treatment and therapy.  

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