Hangovers and Hungover Staff

Hangovers and Hungover Staff

Published: 04/09/2018

Being hungover at work from alcohol or drugs, leads to lower attention levels, an increased chance of accidents, even suffering from anxiety and depression because of the alcohol or drugs.

A new study by psychologists Craig Gunn and Dr Sally Adams of the University of Bath, published in the respected journal Addiction, and covered in Science Daily, entitled    ‘Why the effects of a boozy binge could last longer than you think’    suggests that the hangover effects of alcohol on our mental processing could extend to the day after a session of heavy drinking.

The study shows across the board, hungover individuals may no longer have any alcohol in their system but will have poorer attention, concentration, memory and psychomotor skills such as coordination and reaction speed when compared to when the individual was sober, which has important implications on driving and workplace safety.

If you have been hungover at work, or any of your employees appear to have alcohol or drug-induced hangovers, then this can cause problems for the person and for the company. While alcohol tends to be the next day, MDMA depression or Suicide Tuesday as it is known comes a few days after ingestion. Please see this interesting read about MDMA.

Official statistics show that employed people are more likely to drink to excess than unemployed people, that the proportion of young workers drinking excessively is highest in manual jobs such as in construction and manufacturing, as well as in professional and financial services (where about a third of staff admit heavy drinking).

A third of employees admitted to having been to work with a hangover

Heavy drinking during the working week contributes to the prevalence of alcohol-related health problems among workers, which in turn impacts upon the productivity of firms. Up to 17 million working days are lost each year in the UK because of alcohol-related sickness and the cost to employers of sick days due to alcohol is estimated at £1.7 to £1.9bn. The total annual cost to the economy was estimated in 2009/10 at £7.3bn which would be over £10bn in today’s money. This works out at well over £100 a lost working day.

But what about the losses in efficiency from a poorer performance at work, or the cost of incidents and accidents to the employer's vehicles, property or to the health and safety of colleagues or the public directly affected by any accidents?

A recent survey revealed that on any given workday around 200,000 British workers turn up to work hungover. How productive or professional can they be while their bodies are busy processing the physical impact of the wine or beer they consumed the night before?

Hangovers have also been linked to increased conflicts at work, reduced job completion and inefficiency.  

A recent survey showed 83% of employees felt that being hungover made a difference to their work. Of these, 22% admitted making mistakes as a result of being hungover and a third admitted that they “drift off and don’t work at their usual pace”. 

Everyone knows, with a hangover of any magnitude, even a mild one, you know yourself that you just do not perform as well as you usually do! It is admitting it to yourself that is the skill... not performing correctly could mean more email typo’s or it could mean signing a contract you shouldn’t have, or it could mean not slowing down or avoiding a collision that you could have ... injuries even death!

The report authors and D.Tec rightly recommend that employers should consider reviewing or revising their Drug and Alcohol Policies on these safety grounds. 

This has been the core message from D.Tec for the past 20 or more years of specialisation in making the workplace safer for everyone through our ‘Policy, Educate, Deter and Detect’ message. Call us to discuss how we can help you make your workplace safer for everyone from both Alcohol and Drugs.

“Don’t drink on a School night!”



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