Work stress and alcohol use

Alcohol Res Health. 1999;23(4):284-91.


Employees who drink heavily or who abuse or are dependent on alcohol can undermine a workforce's overall health and productivity. To better understand the reasons behind employee abusive drinking and to develop more effective ways of preventing problem drinking in the workforce, researchers have developed a number of paradigms that guide their research. One such paradigm is the alienation/stress paradigm, which suggests that employee alcohol use may be a direct or indirect response to physical and psychosocial qualities of the work environment. Although in the alcohol literature, work alienation and work stress traditionally have been treated as separate paradigms, compelling reasons support subsuming the work-alienation paradigm under a general work-stress paradigm. Researchers have developed several models to explain the relationship between work stress and alcohol consumption: the simple cause-effect model, the mediation model, the moderation model, and the moderated mediation model. Of these, the moderated mediation model particularly stands out, because it simultaneously addresses the two fundamental issues of how and when work stressors are related to alcohol use. Recent research supports a relation of work-related stressors to elevated alcohol consumption and problem drinking. Future research should focus on the relation between work stressors and alcohol use among adolescents and young adults, because they are just entering the workforce and are the most likely to engage in heavy drinking. Longitudinal studies also are needed to better explain the relation between work stress and alcohol use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Work*