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Drinking Culture in the Workplace

It’s 5 o’clock on a Friday and everyone in the office is heading to the local pub for “Beer O’Clock”. 

Personally, I’ve been sober for almost 15 months to get healthy (physically and mentally) and sometimes, this time of the week can cause some anxiety. Not because I crave alcohol, but mostly those around me create “peer pressure” to drink with them.

It’s actually very annoying!

However, for those that “do” drink, Beer O’Clock can also create anxiety to “fit in”.

Under Pressure

Arriving at the local pub with your co-workers and “doing rounds” is very typical. If you don’t drink (like myself), you have lots of options;

  • Mocktails: choose a non-alcoholic drink or a soft-drink
  • Say you’re driving
  • Mention the health benefits of cutting out alcohol
  • Find a cause to support and donate your drinking money 
  • Be honest and say you don’t drink or that you simply don’t like the taste of alcohol 
  • Find an ally/work buddy that helps as a backup!

If you still find yourself struggling, come up with an exit strategy. It can be something as simple as telling everyone you’ve double-booked yourself or that you need to head home. 

Is it worth it?

Work functions can cause anxiety, stress, and uneasiness. It’s a chance to speak to co-workers and managers and possibly impress a client in a casual setting away from the desk. 

Typically there is free-flowing booze and not enough food and water. Thus, creating a toxic combination of too much alcohol consumption while dealing with the awkwardness of hanging out with workmates outside of work. 

Even if you don’t drink, it’s easy to be tempted if everyone around you has a drink in hand and looks to be at ease with each other laughing and socialising.

OK, is it really worth it? 

I’ve personally seen fights break out between employees, people so drunk they can hardly walk, & employees terminated due to “Friday drinks” behavior. 

If you ever find yourself being pressured into drinking at a work event against your will, know that you can speak to Worksafe for a confidential chat about your options. 

The Facts

Alcohol is a depressant drug that has short-term and long-term effects on the body.

Here are a few short-term effects:

  • Injuries! 
  • Memory loss
  • Unwanted or unprotected sexual encounters
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Alcohol poisoning 

Long-term effects are:

  • Liver disease
  • Mental health issues
  • Cancer
  • Substance abuse

Sounds horrifying, doesn’t it? While it isn’t likely you will develop liver disease or cancer from enjoying a few drinks with your co-workers from time to time, it’s important to factor in the long-term effects that alcohol has on the body. 


What if you still feel left out because you are tired of faking it or don’t want to explain every time why you don’t drink? Suggest alternative social events that don’t involve spending hours at a bar.

  • Escape rooms
  • Movie nights 
  • Bowling 
  • Find a pub that is doing an alcohol-free night. Check out these Melbourne and Sydney venues 

Chances are you aren’t the only one who doesn’t drink. Maybe a few co-workers feel the need to drink, even though they really don’t want to. Suggesting social activities that don’t involve alcohol creates a more inclusive environment while still having fun. 

No one should make you feel guilty or question you about your choices. If you still feel pressured into taking part in the drinking culture of your company, maybe it’s time to reassess your situation and find a company that aligns with your values. It’s easier said than done, but standing your ground and not backing down is important and people should value your needs.


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