Alcoholism Among Salespeople
Drinking Among Salespeople
Working in sales is a high pressure and highly competitive job. There is no question that alcohol has become infused within the culture of sales, and for many in the sales force this can cause problems. But why exactly do people working in sales turn to drinking in the first place?
Salespeople drink for different reasons. Some may drink due to the overwhelming anxiety associated with meeting clients. For these individuals, drinking before meetings is a way to loosen up and be more sociable. For others, just the constant presence of alcohol can persuade them to drink. In any job where social interaction outside of the workplace is part of the job, such as is the case with sales, there is a good chance that these meetings will involve alcohol.
Salespeople often meet with customers over dinner, and this will frequently include the “social” drink before or during the meal. And maybe another one to celebrate closing a deal. And maybe another one for a nightcap before bed…As you can imagine, this repeated pattern of abusive drinking can be dangerous, and over time this can lead to addiction.
Alcohol Abuse Among the Sales Force
So, are salespeople more prone to alcoholism, or are alcoholics more susceptible to a career in sales? Previous research may shed some light on this question. Findings from one study examining the abusive drinking behaviors of marketing and business students indicate that abusive drinkers may be attracted to sales careers.1 While there is still a need for greater analysis into what exactly causes alcoholism within the sales force, the results from this study show that some individuals may have an alcohol abuse problem prior to actually starting their careers in sales.
For those who did not drink before their work in sales, the constant source of stress they encounter from their job may be the reason they start to drink. Research has shown a strong connection between stress and substance abuse, and this would clearly apply to people working in the high-pressure field of sales.2
Whether drinking to relax with customers or to cope with the stress of not meeting monthly sales goals, a constant exposure to alcohol only worsens one’s problems. As drinking continues the tolerance to alcohol also increases, and larger quantities of alcohol need to be consumed more frequently in order to experience the desired effects. This leads to a physical dependence on alcohol, at which point it becomes much more difficult to stop drinking due to symptoms of withdrawal. It is easy to see how this cycle of alcohol abuse can easily spiral out of control in salespeople.
According to data from the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance, saleswomen are especially prone to the harmful effects of alcohol abuse. From 2007-2012, women working in sales were almost twice as likely to die from alcoholism as U.S. workers in general. Saleswomen are also almost twice as likely to die from mental disorders related to alcohol abuse.3
If you work in the sales force and are battling the effects of alcoholism, please know that help is available. Consider professional treatment in a residential program, where addiction specialists will provide you with a customized path to recovery. Based on your level of dependency, a medically supervised detox treatment may be recommended. During this time, medications may be provided to help prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment will likely include group or individual therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy technique helps people find new ways to behave by changing their thought patterns, providing the coping skills needed to address situations that led to previous alcohol abuse.
- Lowe, L.S., Ayres, R., & Bowen, P. (2015). An Investigation into the Roots of Salesforce Alcoholism. In: Kothari V. (eds) Proceedings of the 1982 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference. Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science. Springer, Cham.
- Sinha, R. (2008). Chronic stress, drug use, and vulnerability to addiction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1141(1), 105-130.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2018). National Occupational Mortality Surveillance.