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New report: More risky alcohol use among employed than unemployed in Norway

Camilla Lynne Bakkeng, head of professional and communications at Akan Competence Center.
Camilla Lynne Bakkeng

25.01.2024 - A new report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), commissioned by Akan Competence Center, shows that risky alcohol use is more prevalent among employed individuals than those who are unemployed. Additionally, the report indicates that the use of illegal substances among the employed is closely linked to risky alcohol use.

'This is an important argument for businesses to be aware of their own alcohol culture in social situations and to prevent their employees from becoming part of the statistics,' says Camilla Lynne Bakkeng, head of professional and communications at Akan Competence Center.

Fifteen percent have risky alcohol use

Nearly 9 out of 10 employed individuals report alcohol consumption in the past 12 months, and 15% engage in risky alcohol use, i.e., alcohol consumption that has the potential for negative consequences and/or could lead to addiction over time. Among the unemployed, the proportion with risky consumption is 11%. This is an interesting finding for workplaces focused on promoting health and prevention for their employees.

'Substance use among employed individuals – whether during work hours or leisure time – is an important socio-political issue because it affects employee productivity and health. However, there is a lack of updated knowledge about differences in substance use among different sociodemographic groups of employees and various occupational groups,' says Inger Synnøve Moan, researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Change in use of cocaine and cannabis among employed individuals

3.8% reported using one or more illegal substances in the last 12 months, and this use appears to be associated with risky alcohol use.

'This could mean multiple benefits from preventing alcohol use in Norwegian businesses,' emphasizes Bakkeng.

Of illegal substances, cannabis use was most prevalent, with 3.3% reporting use in the last 12 months. The report shows a significant increase, from 2.5% to 7%, in cannabis use among female employees aged 20-40 years. The proportion is now at the same level as men in the same age group.

There is also a significant increase in cocaine use among male employees aged 20-40, from 3% to 6% over the past two years. There was also an increase in cocaine use among female employees in the same age group, from nearly 0% to over 2-3%. Overall, 1% of the entire group reports using cocaine in the last 12 months.

'The proportion reporting use of illegal substances is significantly higher among employees with risky alcohol use, a warning signal the Norwegian workforce should heed,' concludes Bakkeng.

About the report:

The findings are from a new report by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health written by researchers Inger Synnøve Moan, Torleif Halkjelsvik, and Elin K. Bye. The report describes the prevalence and development of alcohol, addictive medication, and illegal substance use among employed individuals in Norway. The report is based on ten years of annual data (2013-2022) collected through telephone interviews from a random selection of individuals in the Norwegian National Registry. The Akan Competence Center funded the report.

The report

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