The Prevalence of Alcohol Use Among Food Service Workers

Your job impacts more than just your income. It can even impact your likelihood of becoming an alcoholic.

A study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that individuals in food service and preparation have a 17.4 percent rate of substance abuse. When looking at alcohol use specifically, past research studies have found that this occupation tends to be heavy alcohol users.

The National Institutes of Health published results from a national telephone survey targeting restaurant chain employees. A total of 1,294 surveys were completed, and results found that 80 percent of male participants and 64 percent of female participants consumed alcohol in heavy quantities. The results backed up the claim that food service workers have the highest rate of heavy drinking among all occupations.

In addition to these percentages, here are other surprising results from the survey:

  • 20 percent of survey participants felt guilty after drinking alcohol
  • Just under 40 percent had experienced alcohol-related harm
  • Over 21 percent exhibited signs of alcohol addiction
  • 41 percent of the survey participants admitted to problem drinking, which involves using alcohol in ways that are harmful to the user or to others.
  • Almost 50 percent of the male participants had consumed more than five drinks at a time within the past year.
  • Just over 32 percent of female participants had consumed more than 4 drinks at a time within the past year.
  • White food service workers were more likely to be problem drinkers compared to nonwhite workers.
  • The demographic with the highest rate of alcohol abuse among food service workers are males between the ages of 21 to 24 who smoke. They also have post-high school educations and often spend time with coworkers outside of work.

All of these statistics beg the question: why are food service workers considered an occupation are highest risk for alcohol abuse? Multiple studies have backed up this claim. Researchers believe part of the reason may be due to easy access of alcoholic beverages while on the job. Workplace norms and culture also play a role – if the food service work environment is filled with people drinking alcohol, the worker is more likely to participate.

All professionals must avoid abusing alcohol and need to ensure that they do not fall into the natural habits associated with the food service industry. Try to always set boundaries. As an employer, you can help decrease the percentage of alcohol abuse in your industry by helping your employees seek help when needed.

Talbott Recovery offers a professionals program for individuals in occupations like food service who may be dealing with an alcohol problem. Contact us today for more information about this program.

Share this Post