Mad Men in Real Life: How Common is Alcohol in the Workplace?

For those of you who have not seen the AMC period drama, Mad Men, it is a television show that centers on the dog eat dog world of advertising set in New York City in the 1960s. While the show was running, viewers would tune in and follow the life of Don Draper, who is a highly successful ad executive who struggles with alcoholism.

And he’s not the only one.

The series showcases the free-flowing of alcohol in an office setting. A constant theme that runs through each season is the prevalence and consequence of unbridled drinking in the workplace.

Many viewers may pass off the portrayal of alcohol use and alcoholism in the workplace as sensationalist or perhaps an accurate portrayal of times in the past. In reality, the show is an example of art imitating real life. Alcohol use and alcoholism in the workplace is a problem that plagues many people in many different occupations.

How Does Alcohol Use Affect The Workplace?

According to information provided by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD):

“Out of millions who hold full time employment in the United States, close to 15 million are heavy drinkers of alcohol, exacting a high cost on work organizations, as employees who drink a lot are often absent from work, suffer from a lot of health problems, and are at a greater risk of harming themselves and others.”

Drug and alcohol abuse cost employers nearly $81 billion annually and these losses can be attributed to absenteeism, injuries and increased accident rates, lost productivity, and fatal accidents in the workplace. Additionally, alcohol and drug use in the workplace also costs employers valuable capital because of theft, low worker morale, high turnover rates, and increased costs of training new employees.

Furthermore, the NCADD listed the following statistics regarding alcohol use in the workplace:

  • Workers with alcohol problems were 2.7 times more likely than workers without drinking problems to have injury-related absences.
  • A hospital emergency department study showed that 35 percent of patients with an occupational injury were at-risk drinkers.
  • Breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in 16 percent of emergency room patients injured at work.
  • Analysis of workplace fatalities showed that at least 11 percent of the victims had been drinking.
  • Large federal surveys show that 24 percent of workers report drinking during the workday least once in the past year.
  • One-fifth of workers and managers across a wide range of industries and company sizes report that a co-worker’s on- or off-the-job drinking jeopardized their own productivity and safety.

In What Occupations is Alcohol Use Most Common?

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can affect anyone and any given profession. However, there are certain occupations where alcohol use is most common in the workplace.


Alcohol abuse and alcoholism in the bartending industry is widespread. According to an article published in The Business Insider, bartenders are just over twice as likely to die from alcoholism than the national average. The reasons are clear: Bartenders are surrounded by alcohol for long periods of time on a daily basis and it is a culture in which drinking (and binge drinking) is accepted.

Food Service Industry

Alcohol use in the food service industry can be commonplace, especially for those who work in chain restaurants, supper clubs, and restaurants. It is estimated that 15 percent of all food service workers engage in heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks consumed in a single session or event). There are studies that suggest those with alcohol dependence issues may “self-select” into the bar or restaurant industry due to the availability of alcohol and the work culture that promote drinking. Work-related alcohol norms include perceptions of others’ approval of drinking or being hungover at work and perceptions of the extent to which significant others engage in these behaviors.


It is estimated that construction workers and laborers are 1.72 times more likely to die from alcohol misuse and alcoholism when compared to other professions. Additionally, it is estimated that construction laborers abuse alcohol and other drugs at twice the national average. However, an increasing number of construction companies are implementing drug-free workplace policies. Because of this, the rate of alcohol and drug use is expected to decrease.


Mining–and especially coal mining–is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. While the annual pay is good–between $80,000 to $100,00 yearly–injuries, health complications, and accidents which lead to death are commonplace. Constantly experiencing these traumas in the workplace may lead people employed in the mining profession to drink more excessively in order to cope.

How to Handle Alcohol in the Workplace

  • Are you struggling with alcohol dependence in the workplace?
  • Is your job performance suffering?
  • Is a co-worker abusing alcohol?

The consequences of alcohol use in the workplace are significant: lost productivity, increased health care costs, workplace injuries, and violence. Fortunately, there are ways those who are struggling with alcohol dependence can get the help they need. Many companies have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which provide a highly effective way to deal with this issue. These programs are in place to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their job performance, health, and well-being. An EAP can help those struggling with alcohol abuse referrals to treatment, workplace substance abuse education programs, and confidential screening among other services.

Many employers are adopting health and wellness programs that emphasize that alcohol and drug use is not condoned in the workplace. These programs help remove the stigma against seeking help and telling employees they can seek treatment confidentially without jeopardizing their jobs. By encouraging and supporting treatment, employers can dramatically assist in reducing the impact of alcohol use in the workplace, while reducing their costs.

Are You Struggling With Addiction? Call Palm Beach Institute

Alcoholism affects all facets of your life and without experienced and professional help you can lose everything that you worked so hard to achieve and maintain. The Palm Beach Institute (PBI) is one of the premier drug and alcohol rehab facilities in Florida, and, for more than 40 years, we have helped thousands break the cycle of addiction and help them reclaim their lives. With effective drug treatment programs, medical detox services, family programs, and top-quality aftercare programs, PBI provides a full continuum of care that addresses the mind, body, and spirit of each client.

Call PBI toll-free today at 855-534-3574 and learn how our treatment programs can give you the recovery you desire.

Can Alcohol be a Gateway Drug?

If you asked someone what they thought of as “gateway drugs,” in today’s current opioid epidemic, they would probably say something along the lines of prescription painkillers as a gateway drug to stronger, illicit substances like heroin. And, there actually have been studies illustrating a clear link between the two.

The second drug that would perhaps seem the most apparent offender is marijuana, especially as decriminalization and legalization become more commonplace. However, there is an even more widespread gateway drug, one that has escaped notice due to how normalized it is.

And that’s alcohol.

According to reports, 88,000 people die from alcohol-related incidents each year in the U.S., which makes alcohol-related incidents the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the nation.

Alcohol misuse, alcohol poisoning, and the problems that result from abusing alcohol cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars each year, which includes law enforcement, emergency services, and alcoholism treatment. And yet, it remains a legal, commonplace, acceptable substance.

What Is a Gateway Drug?

A gateway drug is a term for the first substance that someone might use, abuse, and eventually, develop a dependency to before either building up a tolerance and seeking a more potent substance or becoming curious about other substances after initially using one.

Of course, substance abuse is never the result of just one thing or even two. Rather, there is a whole spectrum of contributors behind why one person might be more vulnerable to addiction than another, including trauma, family history, mental illness, and even some form of genetic predisposition.

That being said, the concept that a substance can serve as a gateway drug for someone who might not have otherwise developed an addiction to multiple substances remains a popular one. In the case of alcohol specifically, it should be no surprise how alcohol overwhelmingly leads the way as the initial substance a person will try before moving on to drugs when the facts are considered.

Alcohol: A Socially Acceptable Substance

Alcohol is more than just a legal substance; it’s an incredibly prevalent one. It’s almost easier to try to list places in the United States where alcohol isn’t available for purchase rather than the places it is.

But there is more to it than just the fact that alcohol is widely available and easily attained. It has been normalized in the mainstream of our country for decades. It is commonplace now to get drinks after work, at the movies, at sports games, at dinner, to celebrate, to mourn, and so much else.

Because drinking alcohol is so “normal” and socially acceptable, it serves as the starting point for many people who end up as drug addicts. Someone may start out just drinking socially, only to have alcohol become a bigger part of their routine until they find themselves counting down the hours until they can have their next drink, or looking to alcohol as a means of relief and refuge.

Even if the person doesn’t become dependent on alcohol, there is still the risk that they will transition from drinking to using drugs. This could happen while drunk, or it could be a natural extension of the habit of drinking to experience relief and enjoyment.

According to a 2015 study, it was found among the group of polysubstance abusers that the majority of them had used alcohol before trying either tobacco or marijuana and eventually moving on to other drugs as well.

Can Underage Drinking Lead to Drug Abuse?

Because of both the accessibility and public perception of alcohol, it’s no wonder that in the United States 60 percent of teens have consumed alcohol by age 18, and 33 percent even earlier than that at 15.

Children that begin using alcohol in their teen years and earlier are significantly more likely to not only develop a dependence on alcohol but also, in fact, have it become a gateway to using and abusing other substances. In a study specifically surveying high schoolers who were abusing multiple substances, it was found that more of them had used alcohol than any other substance and that even those using other substances had first started with alcohol.

The Palm Beach Institute Can Help You Get Your Life Back

Although it’s a legal substance, alcohol remains a major problem at both micro and macro levels. And while alcoholism on its own is a severe illness, the inherent danger of alcohol is compounded by the fact that so many of those who misuse it go on to use other substances.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction, call the Palm Beach Institute at 855-960-5456 or contact us online. We’re available anytime, day or night, to answer your questions or walk you through the process of choosing the right rehab for your needs.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use?

Opioid abuse in the U.S. has reached levels that officials across the board agree can no longer go unnoticed or untreated. President Donald Trump in 2017 formally declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, which observers say is an important step in addressing the epidemic of opioid misuse.

An estimated two million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain medicines in 2015, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for that year. And data from the report show that treatment admissions linked to these medications more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2012, although only 18 percent received treatment for prescription opioid use disorders.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of prescription medications that are used to treat moderate-to-severe pain. Drugs in this class, which include the illegal drug heroin, interact and bind with opioid receptors on the nerve cells in the body and brain. They reduce pain messages to the brain and thus the feelings of pain in users.

These medications are intended for short-term use and are considered safe when taken as prescribed by a doctor for a short time. However, the feelings of euphoria and relaxation in addition to pain relief make them easy to misuse and abuse. This means users take more than the quantity prescribed, take them without a prescription, or take them in a way that is inconsistent with how they are supposed to be taken. Even users who have legitimate prescriptions and use the drugs regularly can still develop a dependence on them, and dependence can lead to addiction.

What Happens If Opioid Abuse Continues?

When taken at higher doses than what is therapeutically necessary, opioids produce a strong sense of euphoria. When this happens, the brain is flooded with neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, which activate the reward and pleasure pathways in the brain. This makes the use of opioids pleasurable and reinforces the behavior of taking high doses as the action is associated with pleasure.

Continued opioid abuse over a prolonged time can lead to building a high physical tolerance to the pain relievers. When people take large doses of opioids, they will have more of the drug in their systems than they have opioid receptors with which the drug can bond. However, with prolonged, habitual, and heavy use of the drugs, the brain begins developing additional opioid receptors that can bind with more and more of the drug.

As a result, people who use opioids in this manner will find themselves increasing the dose of the opioid they are taking to achieve the desired effects. At this point, they have developed a dependence and are on the road to an addiction that can lead to overdose or death.

Long-Term Effects of Opioid Abuse for Addicts

The “desired effects” that users set out to get when they abuse opioids harm the body and mind and come with serious, life-threatening risks.

Here are some specific opioids and the long-term effects they can have on users’ physical and mental health.

Codeine – Prolonged use of codeine can cause a number of effects on the body that can lead to death. Respiratory depression, when a person’s breathing becomes shallow or dangerously labored, is possible. Other medical complications include cardiac damage to body’s vital organs and coma. Using this drug for long periods can quickly cause physical dependence and can lead to addiction.

Fentanyl – This powerful synthetic opioid is estimated to be 80 to 500 times stronger than morphine. warns that first-time users experimenting with this Schedule II drug or using it recreationally are in extreme danger of overdosing on it. Chronic fentanyl use increase users’ risk for significantly damaging decreased oxygen in the body’s tissues and damage of multiple organ systems. Long-term use can also result in users exhibiting poor judgment in personal and professional situations.

Heroin – The long-term effects of repeated heroin use include physical structure and physiological changes in the brain. This results in imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems that are not easily reversed, according to data cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Chronic users also may find problems with making decisions and regulating their behavior. These conditions have been linked to the breakdown of white matter in the brain that results from regular heroin use. Addiction, of course, results from prolonged use. People who use methods that allow the substance to reach the brain quickly are at increased risk of developing an addiction to it.

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Hydrocodone – Frequent use of this opioid, which is sold under the names Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab, can result in several physical health problems, such as acetaminophen toxicity, liver damage, and sensorineural hearing loss. Mental health is at risk as well with chronic use.

Hydromorphone (Dilaudid) – Chronic hydromorphone users are at risk of developing physical and psychological problems. Anxiety, depression, mood swings, and reckless behavior are some of the challenges that come with the long-term use of this drug. Prolonged abuse could lead people to move on to heroin, which commonly happens when prescription opioids are abused. Severe side effects include chest pain, breathing problems, and seizures.

Methadone – Methadone dependence is difficult to break once established, even for those who use it as a substitute for opioid addiction treatment. It is estimated that about 5,000 people die yearly from abusing this drug. Its effects have been likened to those of the illegal addictive opioid heroin.

Morphine – People who chronically use or abuse morphine can cause irreversible damage to their vital organs. Excessive use threatens the respiratory system, putting users at risk of breathing problems, and the cardiovascular system, which brings on chest pains, collapsed veins, and abnormally low blood pressure. Chronic morphine users may have a hard time passing urine or feel pain while urinating. They also may have renal damage.

Oxycodone – Chronic oxycodone users may develop a physical and psychological dependence over the long-term. Users may have trouble sleeping, experience changes in balance, depersonalization, and mood swings, among other problems. Paranoia, depression, and hallucinations have been associated with long-term oxycodone use. Serious consequences can result from long-term use of oxycodone that contains acetaminophen. Kidney and liver failure have been associated with the use of this drug as well as cardiac arrest, heart failure, low blood pressure, seizures, suicidal ideations, and more.

Percocet – Prolonged use of Percocet, a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen, can cause structural and functional changes in the brain. Chronic users may experience lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating, or memory loss as a result of changes in the brain. Psychological challenges include depression, paranoia, confusion, insomnia, hallucinations, and personality disorder. Users also could exhibit mood swings, introverted behavior, and other behavioral changes.

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Long-term effects of opioid use also can trigger structural and functional changes in the brain that cause users to lose much of their ability to cope with pain naturally without the use of pain medication. In other words, long-term opioid use has been found to cause significantly decreased pain tolerance. Additionally, users begin to experience pain more intensely since they don’t consistently have high levels of opiate painkillers in their systems.

Many people who misuse and abuse prescription opioid medications may find they need professional help at an addiction rehabilitation or treatment center to get off the drugs and on the path to recovery.

Effects of Opioids Can Linger Beyond Recovery

Once opioid users become and remain sober, their brain chemistry and neurological functioning will begin to stabilize and return to a relatively normal state. However, there are lingering effects that can remain with a person in recovery from opioid addiction for months or even years after their use has stopped. These effects, or symptoms, are known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), and they are an unfortunate consequence of having been a habitual substance abuse for a prolonged period.

The lasting psychological effects brought on by prolonged opioid use are arguably the most persistent. Without the daily, habitual abuse of opioid pain relievers, individuals are confronted with their undiluted emotions, which can be overwhelming at first. It takes time to adjust to this as the return of one’s emotional sensitivity often feels like an emotional flood. Additionally, many people who have overcome an opioid addiction will be prone to experiencing depression. Ongoing treatment that involves counseling and methods, such as a 12-step program, can help people manage their PAWS symptoms as needed.

The Palm Beach Institute is a Resource for All Things Recovery

Opioids are some of the most highly addictive and dangerous chemical substances that exist. While opioids can be beneficial when used correctly, the misuse and abuse of the medications have cost many people their lives. At the Palm Beach Institute, we believe that everyone deserves the chance to return to a life of health and happiness.

If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation or assessment, call us today at 855-960-5456 and speak with one of our intake coordinators. Whether it’s day or night, one phone call can start your journey back to independence and fulfillment.

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Can You Cure Addiction and Alcoholism?

Recovering from substance abuse and addiction is fraught with challenges. These challenges involve the physical and emotional aspects of recovery as well as the philosophy of recovery itself. Some in the addiction recovery community have made the controversial claim that addiction is curable. This point of view goes against the grain of the traditional school of thought, which asserts that addiction is a complex, chronic, and progressive “disease” that has no cure but can be addressed with effective professional treatment.

Treatment involves detoxification (the process of ridding the body of toxic substances), behavioral counseling, medication, relapse prevention techniques, and other methods that promote a life free of drugs and alcohol.

Can The Cycle of Addiction Be Broken?

People in the recovery community who believe addiction can be cured point to the biopsychosocial model of addiction that can be used to break the cycle of addiction, thus curing those who have the disease. The model takes a holistic approach to addiction and looks at factors in three main categories. They are:

Biological—refers to the genetic predisposition to develop an addiction and how addiction affects the physical body. Biological factors include birth, adoption, and genetic vulnerability, among others.

Psychological—refers to the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings as they relate to addiction. Many psychological theories have provided a lens to examine addiction, including personality theory, classical conditioning theory, social learning theory, learning theory and, of course, psychoanalysis.

Social–these factors include the influences of family, friends, and other relationships. Addiction usually has a negative effect on relationships and affects how people who are recovering from addiction relate to the people around them.

People in the recovery community who use the biopsychosocial model believe that using a multidisciplinary approach to the study of addiction should lead to the development of a more accurate picture of the causes of addiction. From that understanding, and through the development of treatments specific to these roots, addiction could have the possibility of being cured.

Why Some Believe That Addiction Can’t Be Cured

For others in the recovery community, including health experts and scientists, the question of whether addiction can be cured doesn’t square with the disease model of addiction. This model asserts that addiction and alcoholism change the brain’s structure and function, which makes it difficult for people in active addiction to control or end their use and abuse of addictive substances. A voluntary decision to use addictive substances can turn into a compulsive need to use those substances.

While professional treatment is recommended for people who are battling addiction and alcoholism, the reality is that treatment will not look the same for everyone. Everyone has a unique history of substance use and abuse, so a “one size fits all” approach will not work. There are three main reasons why this may be the case:

Programmed for pleasure. The quest for pleasure is fundamentally human, and humans in search of pleasure often resort to experimenting with drugs and other substances to invent ways to get high. Addictive drugs provide instant gratification through the release of dopamine and that process conditions us to seek out the next high.

Pain. Just as humans are hardwired to seek out pleasure, they also are hardwired to avoid painful experiences. People often turn to drugs to escape the pain, sadness, and depression that may be present in their daily lives.

Drug use isn’t just about drugs. Addiction is an illness that has a strong behavioral component. Those who are susceptible to addiction experience drugs and alcohol in a very different way than average people. Addicts seek the high more, but they enjoy it less. Furthermore, the cravings, rituals, and other behaviors associated with drug use continue even after a person stops using.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) asserts that addiction is a disease that affects the brain and behavior. It also asserts that addiction is a treatable disease but cautions that the treatment process is not as simple as it may sound.

“Because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives,” it writes on its website.

Addiction treatment can help people in recovery stop using drugs, remain abstinent and drug-free, and be productive members of the family, the job, and society, according to NIDA’s view on the issue.

Its list of key principles of effective drug treatment, which it says is based on scientific research since the mid-1970s, include the following:

  • People need to have quick access to treatment.
  • Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just their drug use.
  • Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
  • Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.
  • Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.
  • Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
  • Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.
  • Medically-assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.
  • Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.

One in seven U.S. adults battle addiction, according to a 2016 federal report, and of the nearly 21 million Americans battling substance addictions, only 10 percent will receive treatment. The report lists some of the reasons why so few get help, including high health care costs and lack of screenings that can detect addiction.

Can You Cure Addiction?

It depends on whom you ask. Some people have claimed to have successfully quit using drugs on their own without professional help, an assertion Scientific American writer Nina Bai explores in an article titled, “Can You Cure Yourself of Drug Addiction?”

Bai highlights a “survey that found that between 60 to 80 percent of people who were addicted in their teens and 20s were substance-free by their 30s, and they avoided addiction in subsequent decades.”

The article also includes a Q-and-A interview with Sally Satel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and lecturer in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, who said it is possible to cure yourself of addiction without professional help. “Most people recover and most people do it on their own,” Satel told Scientific American.

However, she also said, “That’s in no way saying that everyone should be expected to quit on their own and in no way denies that quitting is a hard thing to do. This is just an empirical fact. It is even possible that those who quit on their own could have quit earlier if they sought professional help.”

Some may disagree. But consider this: How people arrive at the point where they are either freed from the clutches of addiction or seeking help to put drugs and alcohol behind them is perhaps more important than how they got to the point where they knew they needed help and got it.

Are You Ready to Leave Addiction Behind?

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, call The Palm Beach Institute at 855-960-5456 or contact us online. We know that while society is inclined to pursue the “quick fix” for addressing addiction, the truth is once addiction sets in, there are no easy or quick solutions.

The Palm Beach Institute has helped many people rebuild their lives after addiction. Don’t take our word for it. Read what others have to say about how we have helped them rebuild their lives as they recovered from addiction. We are here to help you or your loved one figure out your best move to leave substance addiction behind for good. Give us a call today.