Are Bartenders Alcoholics? (Insightful Guide)

are bartenders alcoholics
Joe | Last Updated: September 30, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

Bartending is a great profession to get into for those looking to develop their social skills, meet new friends, or earn extra cash as a side gig.

It’s incredibly rewarding being able to serve customers a stunning cocktail and keep up with the fast pace of a busy Saturday night.

That said, being around alcohol so much may not be a great idea for everyone. Whilst working as a bartender, drinking can quickly become part of your routine which may lead some down a slippery slope.

Today, we’re going to discuss an interesting topic that often comes up when discussing bartenders and their behaviors and habits at work. “Are bartenders alcoholics?”

No, bartenders are NOT alcoholics, however, bartenders do have a higher risk of dying from alcoholism when compared to the rest of the working population. In fact, bartenders are 2.33 times more likely to die from alcoholism than the average employee.

Let’s take a closer look…

Are Bartenders Really Alcoholics?

It’s a frightening statistic to know that bartenders have over double the chance of dying from alcoholism than the average working employee.

It’s true that there are bartenders out there who are alcoholics, just as there are plumbers, lawyers, and construction workers who need a drink to get through their day.

Working in a busy bar and being surrounded by alcohol isn’t a great environment for people struggling with alcoholism as you can imagine.

The temptation could easily get the better of those struggling with addiction which will only make matters worse.

are bartenders alcoholics
Photo by Kike Salazar N on Unsplash

However, no, bartenders are NOT alcoholics and in fact, many bartenders DO NOT drink at all whilst on shift so that they can perform at their best.

For one, drinking alcohol in most states in the US is illegal and will lead to instant dismissal, but there are states such as California that leave the choice of whether bartenders can drink on shift up to the landlord.

Not only that, but alcohol can make the brain drowsy and make it easy for bartenders to forget drink orders and increase the likelihood that they’ll make mistakes.

Whilst alcohol can be a social lubricant for some, it can be a real problem for others who may become agitated or aggressive if they drink. This will drastically reduce the standard of service they can provide and undoubtedly reduce their tips.

>> Read more: Why do bartenders drink Fernet?

Are Bartenders Likely To Become Alcoholics?

No, from my experience bartenders are NOT likely to become alcoholics. It’s very rare and is easy to spot from a management perspective.

Working in a busy bar and being surrounded by alcohol may seem like the perfect excuse to have a drink, but for those who struggle with alcohol addiction, this is NOT a good idea.

About 88,000 people die as a result of alcohol addiction in the United States every year and around 6% of American adults have an alcohol use disorder.

For those people, working as a bartender could be a disaster and the chances of them becoming an alcoholic are seriously increased due to the working environment.

The fun, lively environment of an uptown bar is sure to make those who enjoy drinking alcohol more likely to do so. When everyone around you is having a good time, bartenders are more likely to stay after work to enjoy a couple of social drinks.

That said, just because you decide to work as a bartender does NOT mean you’ll become an alcoholic. So long as you understand that you’re there for work and have no previous history of alcohol addiction then you don’t need to worry about becoming an alcoholic.

If you’re located in the US, the likelihood of you being able to drink whilst on the job is slim depending on the state you are in, so this is a good deterrent as if you do decide to drink you’ll probably lose your job.

Not worth it.

>> Read more: Are bars dangerous?

Why Might Bartenders Become Alcoholics?

Working as a bartender is awesome. You get to meet new people every shift who may become lifelong friends whilst earning money and having fun.

It’s the dream job? Whilst this may be true for some, bartending can be a recipe for disaster for others which may lead them down a dark path.

Below are some considerations to keep in mind before deciding to become a bartender:


Working in a lively, busy bar is incredibly fun. There’s often loud music on Friday and Saturday nights and depending on the bar you may even have bands playing live on a Sunday.

The environment is set up to attract paying customers who are looking to enjoy themselves whilst drinking alcohol. However, if you’re not careful you can be easily enticed into drinking more than you normally would.

In some states, drinking on the job is legal and you may be tempted into having a couple of drinks on shift if you’re feeling in the mood.

This can quickly lead to drinking every shift and if you are not careful, this can negatively impact your health.

History With Alcohol

Those who have a history of alcohol addiction will want to stay clear of working as a bartender.

Being in an environment that is surrounded by alcohol and set up perfectly to entice customers into drinking more and more is a terrible idea for those with a history of alcohol.

My advice would be to avoid bartending altogether. Don’t risk it.

Easily Lead

If you are an individual that is easily led by others and can be swayed into having a couple of drinks on or after your shift you will want to be careful.

It’s easy to get caught up in the lifestyle of becoming a bartender and you may find yourself bar-hopping after the shift with friends or other staff members which can quickly become a slippery slope.

I know multiple people from my hometown who became bartenders and all of a sudden they are out partying every night, it’s easily done if you are not careful.

Full-Time Staff

If you are applying for a full-time position as a bartender it’s worth taking into account the impact this may have on your social and family life.

I’m not saying that just because you are a full-time bartender you’ll become an alcoholic, but you will absolutely be around alcohol every single day and if you’ve got a history then it may be worth considering the impact of this.

How To Prevent Alcoholism As A Bartender

The truth is, some bartenders do become alcoholics over time and it’s important to think about how you react to alcohol and your relationship with it before jumping into a bartender role.

Preventing alcoholism is crucial for bartenders and there are a couple of things you can do to ensure you don’t go down that path.

Don’t Drink At Work

The best way to stop yourself from drinking excessively as a bartender is to simply not drink any alcohol at work.

It can be tempting to have a cheeky drink on shift if your manager allows which is all fun and games until it starts happening every shift.

Keep your wits about you and monitor how much alcohol you consume at work. Be self-aware and don’t be tempted by others to drink at work if you don’t want to.

are bartenders alcoholics
Photo by Josh Olalde on Unsplash

Go Home When You Finish

Bartenders often make a habit of having a couple of drinks after the shift and then proceeding to tour other bars when they clock off.

I’ve seen this lead to very unhealthy lifestyles and it can quickly become a bad habit. After a busy Saturday shift, it’s easy to have a couple of drinks, and then once you start feeling giddy move on to other local bars.

Bad idea, don’t do it.

Don’t Be Influenced By Others

Whilst working the bar ensure that you are not influenced by the behaviors of others when it comes to consuming alcohol.

If your manager or other staff members off you a drink, don’t feel rude or guilty by saying “no thanks”.

The BEST bartenders and the ones that make the most money in this role DO NOT drink. They avoid alcohol as they know the effects it can have on themselves and their job.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a clear answer to “are bartenders alcoholics” and have a better understanding of why some bartenders do end up becoming alcoholics but most don’t.

It’s usually the younger bartenders that fall into the trap of having drinks at work, after their shift, and then proceeding to drink at other bars.

This can quickly become a slippery slope, especially for those who are easily led or have a previous history of alcohol addiction.

It’s true that working as a bartender does increase the likelihood of becoming an alcoholic, for obvious reasons. Being surrounded by alcohol at work may lead some people to drink more than they normally would.

However, just because you are a bartender does NOT mean you’re an alcoholic. In fact, most bartenders don’t drink at all and prefer to keep work and their social life completely separate.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve learned something new about bartending today.

See you in the next one!