By Ian Bush

By KYW’s Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If your workplace is a booze-free zone, maybe you’re jealous of those creative types who get to kick back with a midday beer from the office cooler. But one Philadelphia-area app design researcher warns that kind of alcohol availability can lead to easy abuse — and he should know.

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Next to the office foosball table and across from the nap pods, there’s a beer cooler: a selling point for prospective employees, and a bonus for clients.

“They come to us and they have fun,” says Victor Yocco, who used to work at a firm where drinks flowed freely. “They can have a beer while they’re in a meeting.”

There was no pressure to imbibe, he says, but alcohol was always readily available.

“The climate is very different,” he explains. “It’s great because it does distinguish us in some way, but it also then creates this atmosphere where using alcohol is nothing unusual. So if you’re someone who’s prone to having an issue, it can exacerbate that.”

That’s what happened to Yocco.

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“The term ‘rock bottom’ was created by somebody a long time ago because it exists,” he says.

A beer at his desk every afternoon led to more. Blackouts followed. His work and life suffered.

Then: sobriety. He has two years under his belt now. And a new mission. It’s not to get the office keg get kicked for good, but instead it’s to raise awareness.

“The environment that we provide people and the culture that we try to create can include alcohol, but it should also then be a supportive and safe atmosphere for everybody — whether or not they choose to drink,” Yocco says. “We need to look at the person next to us who may be experiencing something very similar in terms of abusing alcohol, or not comfortable around alcohol, and who could be excelling if they just have the right environment at work and at home.”

Yocco is hosting a discussion on the issue on Thursday from 6:30-8pm at Drexel’s URBN Center at 3501 Filbert St. It’s part of Refresh Philly; registration is free.

(Yocco’s book, ‘Design for the Mind: Seven Psychological Principles of Persuasive Design,’ is expected out in May. He’s offering KYW listeners a discount with code: muyorefresh.)

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