For those lucky enough to hold onto their non-essential jobs so far during the COVID-19 pandemic, the average workday sure looks a lot different than it used to. Working from home has drastically cut down on commute times and introduced some incredibly casual dress codes, for example. Based on some recent survey data, it sure seems like being away from the watchful eye of their bosses has also emboldened some people to start drinking on the job.
That information comes from a nationwide survey of 3,000 Americans conducted by Alcohol.org (which wants you to drink less, not more), which found that a sizable percentage of folks have admitted to “drinking alcohol at home during work hours”. With the exceptions of Arkansas, Mississippi, Delaware, and Maine, at least 20 percent of respondents in every state admitted to tipping back a drink in the hours before a Zoom-based happy hour would normally start.
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Interestingly, it doesn’t appear that there’s any correlation between the number of COVID-19 cases or deaths in your area and the likelihood of hitting the bottle during daytime hours. New York, fast becoming a global epicenter of the pandemic, clocks in at 38 percent, while Washington, the US’ first hot spot, reported 30 percent of its workers drinking during the day. Though it’s hard to know what to make of these numbers without any info about the sample size for each state, Virginia (is proximity to the federal government stressing them out?) and New Hampshire (is it the whole “Live Free or Die” thing?) lead the charge with a whopping 50 percent of respondents admitting to drinking between nine and five.
Click here to see every state's percentage of work-from-home drinkers.
Beyond the state-level data, the survey also yields some other useful information about our quarantine drinking habits. For those who admitted to drinking during work hours, beer was the potent potable of choice. On an overall level, one out of every three survey respondents admitted that they expect to drink more during isolation than they otherwise would, which makes sense given the potent combination of boredom, existential dread, and the inability to get a DWI while stuck at home. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that a fifth (a rather fitting fraction) of respondents said they’d stockpiled alcohol for their quarantine.
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So if you’ve used these strange times as an excuse to start happy hour a little earlier than normal, just know that you’re not alone. But if you’re worried your drinking habits have become unhealthy, here’s how to tell if your “stress drinking” is turning dangerous—and what do do about it.
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