Which Jobs Make You Most Likely to Drink?
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Which Jobs Make You Most Likely to Drink?


After reading RedEyeChicago’s post on jobs that make you more likely to drink, a couple of things occurred to me. First, this study obviously didn’t take polls from candidates of certain professions; like prostitutes, priests, construction workers, stay-at-home parents, housewives and house husbands. I say this because not only do I feel confident that it’s extremely challenging to sell your body sober (I couldn’t even sell medical supplies when I was sober) but also because when you’re in 12-step meetings, you come to realize how much drinking and drugging can escalate when they are confined to the home. Second, since their survey didn’t specify what kind of drugs the candidates used, the results are up against a bias of those who either don’t consider marijuana a drug (my parents) or don’t report using pot because they don’t think their clandestine habit should be lumped in with “real druggies.”

Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots!

According to the article, those working in the hotel and restaurant business (i.e. bartenders, waitresses, front desk attendants) and the arts and entertainment industry (i.e. rappers, comedians, ventriloquists) were the heaviest users of drugs and alcohol. Not much of a shocker there since serving booze often bleeds into partaking in it and exposing yourself (sometimes literally) on stage at a comedy club to a half empty room of people who wished they’d gone to the movies instead would make anyone want to know what cocaine smells like. The piece goes on to say that age range skews some of these stats. For instance, younger people are more likely to experiment with drugs and drink heavily; they are also more likely to be servers or bartenders (though anecdotally I’ll say that some of the biggest drug addicts I know are cooks and their age range can skyrocket into the 60s).

I thought it was interesting that the study also showed that managers, which I assume to be talent managers since it was listed immediately after artists and entertainers, were a high using demographic. Maybe interesting is the wrong word—inevitable is more like it. Since managers often act as surrogate parents, it would make sense that these masochists feel the need to take the edge off more than the average person.

IMO? I Thought You’d Never Ask

As someone that has been surrounded by alcoholics and drug addicts on a daily basis for nearly 12 years, I would like to throw some other observed hard-to-perform-sober professions in the ring.

1) Lawyers

The pressure to compete seems to start as early as law school and so the use of “performance enhancing drugs” can often begin at this time. Though a sharp mind is essential for any attorney, those attracted to this kind of dense education and high-paced career are typically cut out for burning the candle at both ends. I hear a lot of lawyers in the rooms of 12-step talk about how they used alcohol and drugs to manage their anxiety.

2) Stockbrokers

Kind of like legal gamblers, those who are paid to play the stock market get to experience the pressures of managing other people’s money with the rush of winning and losing that comes with the game. Much like lawyers, brokers can use booze and drugs to manage the highs and lows that can come multiple times in one workday. Happy hour, and all that comes with it, tends to be a popular way to blow off steam after a particularly (or typically) stressful day at the office.

3) Salespeople

From ad sales to slinging honey at a farmers market, those in the position of having to exercise or manufacture people skills will generally gravitate towards an after work cocktail, joint or whatever else they may be into. While promoting organic queen bee honey behind a plastic table in 90 degree weather as a casting director you just auditioned for walks by is a sobering job, I think you may need to be either high or hungover to endure it.

4) Yoga instructors

An unlikely group, I know, but for some reason, the practice of mindfulness seems to be commonly enjoyed with a nighttime ritual of vodka and soda with a twist of lemon (for alkalization). Living in Los Angeles, I have a handful of friends who have gone the way of the Lulu Lemon life and seem to have no shortage of stories about head-pounding Chaturangas.

5) Strippers

It’s true that the lovely ladies (and men, for you Magic Mike enthusiasts) who dance while scantily clad could be categorized in the field of entertainment, I think they deserve their own shout out. While the black and neon environment of a strip club begs for the use of mind-altering substances, the combination of public dancing, networking with desperate people who treat you like they can buy you for $20 (because they kind of can) and having at least one child you are probably the sole caregiver of, makes stripping a dish best serves drunk.

6) Tattoo artists

While there are definitely tattoo artists who don’t drink or use drugs, nine times out of 10 it’s because they are in recovery. Sure, there are some who came out of the straight edge punk scene and therefore never experimented but mostly, when you walk into a tattoo shop, you will smell the sweet combination of tobacco, weed and hops (unless they are drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and then you just smell cheap malted barley and beard oil).

7) Sandwich artists

Okay, okay, these fine lunch food craftsman do technically fall under the restaurant business category but since that is such a sprawling umbrella I thought it important to single these people out. Anyone working behind the counter of a tell-me-what-you-want-and-I-will-build-it sandwich shop has the unique pleasure of dealing with the gen pop, their varying food restrictions and their indecisiveness. It’s enough to make Mother Teresa need a cocktail.

I am not implying that these jobs can’t be performed sober. Other than prostitution, I think any profession can be carried out just fine without the assistance of alcohol and drugs. But there is no question that some are more challenging than others. If I didn’t know a handful of sober bartenders, comedians and dominatrixes, I might have a hard time believing it myself.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.