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Addictive patterns in young accountants

1 in 5 young accountants say alcohol has negatively impacted their life: A new study by occupational charity caba has shone a light on addiction and addictive patterns within the accountancy profession, with almost 1 in 5 (19%) accountants aged 30 or under admitting that their drinking habits have negatively impacted their work or personal life.

This dropped to just under 1 in 10 (9%) across all age groups (18-65+).

The study of 1,919 accountants from across the UK found that 1 in 4 (25%) regularly drink alcohol to lift their mood. Almost two-thirds (60%) said they regularly exceed the daily recommended intake for alcohol, with almost 1 in 10 (9%) saying they do so on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, 1 in 5 (20%) respondents admitted to drinking so much that they were unable to remember the evening before. This was most prevalent within the under-30 age group, with 1 in 6 (15%) saying they experience alcohol-related blackouts at least once a month.

A quarter (25%) of respondents said that a friend, relative or doctor had also expressed concern over their drinking habits.

The study also looked at other forms of addictions, such as gambling and recreational drug use.

1 in 50 (2%) respondents said they regularly participate in a form of gambling such as sports betting and online casino games. Of these, almost two-thirds (63%) said they gamble at least once a week, a quarter (26%) said they spend over £400 a month, and a third (33%) admitted to not always being open with their friends and family about their gambling habits.

1 in 6 (15%) accountants who regularly gamble said that they had been worried about their finances as a result of their gambling habits, and 1 in 10 (11%) said they have had to borrow money from someone else.

While the number of respondents who said that they themselves take recreational drugs to lift their mood was low (1%), almost 1 in 10 (8%) stated that they had witnessed a colleague taking drugs. This rose to 1 in 7 (14%) for those aged 30 or under.

When asked whether they know someone within the accountancy industry who they think has an addiction, 1 in 7 (14%) accountants said that they did.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Dr Stefan Walters, psychologist and addiction specialist, said:

“I’ve worked with many accountants and financial professionals over the years to support them through addiction. It’s a common issue, particularly for people in high-stress, high-performance jobs. The pressure of having to be a perfect version of yourself can take its toll, and often addictive behaviours arise as a coping strategy.

“The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. There is no shame in seeking help, and there’s always someone out there who is there to listen.”

Cristian Holmes, CEO of caba, said:

“Being an accountant is a highly respected and coveted career path, and the profession has many perks. However, the demanding nature of the job often means long hours and a lack of margin for error, which can result in high levels of stress and burnout for some people.

“To combat these feelings, we often turn to habits that are effective in lifting our moods. Unfortunately, many of these can become addictive over time and can subsequently be detrimental to our mental, physical, and financial health if left untreated.

“By conducting this research, we’re looking to raise awareness of addictive behaviour in the profession and create an open, honest dialogue that reduces the stigma that currently surrounds addiction and mental health. We want to help people to spot the signs and to know how to get help for themselves and others.”

To support ICAEW chartered accountants who are struggling with addiction, caba has launched a new online hub of support content for addiction.

In partnership with the mental healthcare experts at Psych Health, they have created help guides for spotting the signs of addiction, getting the right help and supporting a friend or family member with an addiction.

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