Everyone has a vice. The one thing that helps sooth the day-to-day operation of life.

Some choose to partake in activities that are deemed exceptionally bad for us, such as smoking cigarettes. Others are addicted to the gym, managing to sweat through sessions between meetings. And then there are those who unwind after a long, hard day with a trashy Netflix binge.

It’s touted that Britain is as well-known for its drinking habits as the Italians are for making pasta. You can hardly pick up a newspaper without headlines screeching about binge-drinking epidemics further sweeping the nation – even James Bond has been labelled an “impotent drunk”. And still we have a tendency to apply binge-drinking culture to students and the yoof of today. Yet, for an increasingly high number of business owners, reaching for a bottle is becoming the norm.

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More work, more drink?

Running your own business – whether you’re self-employed or a director of a limited company – is a tough job. Business owners frequently put in significantly more time than a regular nine-to-five employee, often due to a higher-than-average workload.

For many, their business is their life. How else will you manage your cashflow accurately if you don’t put in the time and effort?

A study by the British Medical Journal found a “significant correlation” between having a hefty workload and alcohol consumption. The research looked at over 330,000 people and found that those who work longer hours are 11% more likely to “engage in risky alcohol consumption”.

Unsurprisingly, the more people work, the more they drink. Those who put in nearly 50 hours of work a week are 13% more likely to reach for the drinks cabinet.

With the self-employed and small business owners putting in, on average, 50-hour weeks, are the self-employed really at the centre of an unrecognised booze-epidemic?

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Booze-centric business?

With over 6 million self-employed people in the UK, we can safely say that the regular working nine-to-five lifestyle is slowly going out the window, and along with that the culture of heading to the pub straight after it’s time to punch out.

Business meetings may always have that executive glass of wine at lunchtime air about them, but could you swap a glass of vino with a client for a mineral water instead? Your health, and waistline, might thank you.

An example of when booze plays a part in business is the idea that office meetings or AGMs need to have some alcohol present – often as an attendance incentive. Is this really the ideal way to encourage and motivate employees, or would your business benefit by spending that money on healthy snacks instead?

Due to shifting working patterns, when and where we drink is changing. Freelancers often put in long shifts, and it’s not uncommon to crack open a bottle of wine at the end of a late-night session to unwind. Relaxing it may be, but alcohol doesn’t help sleep – no matter how much of it you knock back in an evening.

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How much should I be drinking?

According to the UK Government and Drink Aware, adults are advised not to consume more than 14 units a week – that’s the equivalent (shockingly) of six pints of beer, six 175ml measures of wine, or fourteen 25ml measures of spirits.

You’re also not allowed to save up your units and cane them all at the weekend. This goes against the rules of moderation, something which the Government is keen to push.

For business owners, drinking in moderation could be the key between a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. Not drinking in moderation, in other words to excess, can seriously damage your health in both the long and short term. Alcohol, no matter how good it makes you feel, has been linked to cancer and liver failure, and can affect your mood, memory, and sleeping habits.

Want some tips on how to cut down? Drink Aware and the NHS have plenty of free advice.