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Alcoholism at Work

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How to Help Employees with Alcoholism

Through mental health access, healthcare benefits, and an alcohol-free workplace environment, employers can do their part in terms of alcohol problem prevention and even preventing drug abuse problems or on the job accidents.

Navigation: What Are the Effects of Alcoholism in the Workplace?, Alcoholism at Work: How to Help Employees with Alcoholism, Approach with Compassion: How to Talk to an Employee with Alcoholism, What is an Employee Assistance Program for Alcohol Abuse?, Offer Accommodations: How Employers Can Make Substance Abuse Treatment More Accessible, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


Alcohol addiction rates are on the rise, and it has a very real impact on the workplace. In fact, around 30 million people are struggling with an alcohol problem, particularly alcohol addiction. Meanwhile, almost 140,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year. This is according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While drinking alcohol socially every once in a while is normal, the physical and mental health effects of employee alcohol consumption is becoming harder to ignore. Employers play an important role in combatting these statistics. They can help address any alcohol or drug problem within their organization by using certain strategies that will protect the health and safety of their workers.

Through mental health access, healthcare benefits, and an alcohol-free workplace environment, employers can do their part in terms of alcohol problem prevention and even preventing drug abuse problems or on the job accidents.


What Are the Effects of Alcoholism in the Workplace?

It’s safe to say that alcoholism can be a problem in the workplace. Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that affects individuals physically, emotionally, and psychologically, and can lead to impaired judgment, reduced productivity, absenteeism, accidents, and conflicts with coworkers.

On an individual level, alcoholism can lead to a range of health problems, including liver disease, heart disease, and mental health issues.

If an employee’s alcoholism is left untreated, it can affect their ability to perform their job duties effectively and safely. Alcoholism can lead to absenteeism, lateness, and decreased work quality, which can all negatively affect productivity.

Workplace alcoholism can impair an individual’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time, which can increase the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace. Therefore it can also lead to legal liability for the employer if an intoxicated employee causes harm to themselves or others while on the job.

It can even impact the morale of their colleagues. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to negative workplace behaviors, such as aggression, mood swings, and poor decision-making, which can create a toxic work environment.

Alcoholism can lead to increased healthcare costs, including medical treatment and insurance premiums, which can affect both the individual and the employer. According to American Addiction Centers, employees with addictions tend to cost employers $740 billion each year due to lost productivity and healthcare costs.

Unfortunately, not a lot of people struggling with addiction actually seek treatment. So by playing their part, employers can eliminate some of the barriers to alcohol treatment, save money by keeping employees productive, and save some lives in the process.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends that workplaces have policies and procedures in place to address alcoholism, including employee assistance programs (EAPs) and referrals to treatment resources.

Alcoholism can have a significant impact on the workplace, and employers should take steps to address and support employees who may be struggling with alcoholism.

When drinking turns into alcohol addiction, it is up to everyone to lend a supportive hand and guide that person towards recovery. Let’s take a closer look at what employers can do to address alcohol problems in the workplace.


Alcoholism at Work: How to Help Employees with Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a serious disease that can have a negative impact on both an individual’s personal life and their job performance. As an employer or coworker, it is important to provide support and resources for employees struggling with alcoholism.

But before you can do that, it is important that you recognize the signs of alcoholism in the workplace.

Look out for signs of alcoholism, such as frequent absences, missed deadlines, decreased productivity, and changes in behavior or mood. Take note that the signs of alcoholism can vary depending on the individual. That said, there are some common indicators to look out for such as:

Frequently arriving late or absent from work.

Decreased productivity and poor job performance.

Engaging in risky behaviors, such as operating machinery while under the influence of alcohol.

Frequently taking breaks to consume alcohol.

Smelling of alcohol or attempting to cover up the smell of alcohol with mouthwash or perfume.

Shaky hands or tremors.

Frequently calling in sick or leaving work early due to alcohol-related issues.

Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks.

Strained relationships with coworkers or superiors due to alcohol-related behavior.

Appearance of being intoxicated, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or stumbling.

If you suspect that someone in your workplace is struggling with alcoholism, it’s important to approach the situation with compassion and empathy. Encourage the individual to seek help and offer support where possible. It may also be helpful to reach out to a supervisor or human resources representative for guidance on how to handle the situation appropriately.

Approach with Compassion: How to Talk to an Employee with Alcoholism

Employees should feel free to discuss their struggles and their condition without fear of losing his or her job.

Approach the subject matter with compassion. If you suspect an employee is struggling with alcoholism, approach them with empathy and understanding. Let them know you are concerned about their well-being and want to help.

If possible, try to plan the conversation ahead of time. Schedule a private meeting with the employee to discuss their alcoholism. Choose a time and place where you will not be interrupted, and ensure that the employee is comfortable and feels safe to talk.

Begin the conversation by expressing your concern for the employee’s well-being. Let them know that you are there to support them and want to help them overcome their addiction.

You have to be specific about the problem behavior. It is important to be clear about the problem you have observed. Avoid being judgmental or accusatory, but explain how the employee’s alcoholism is affecting their job performance and behavior at work.

It’s important to make treatment options accessible to them, and we will discuss later on how you can do so as an employer.

You need to be clear about the consequences of refusing to get help or seek treatment. If the employee’s alcoholism is affecting their job performance or behavior, you may need to set clear expectations and consequences if the behavior does not improve. Be sure to document any conversations and actions taken.

Check in with the employee regularly to see how they are doing and if they need any additional support. Remember to maintain confidentiality and respect the employee’s privacy. Communication is the key to navigating these challenges. Work closely with your employee to help them recover from their alcohol addiction.

What is an Employee Assistance Program for Alcohol Abuse?

Aside from just talking about their condition, there are other ways employers can support their addicted employees. One good way to help with their recovery is to provide resources for alcohol addiction treatment.

Provide information about local support groups and treatment options, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and counseling services. Many workplaces also offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) that can provide confidential counseling and other resources.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are workplace programs designed to assist employees who may be struggling with alcohol addiction. These programs typically offer a range of services to employees, such as counseling, referrals to treatment facilities, and support groups.

The goal of an EAP for alcoholism is to provide confidential and immediate help to employees who are experiencing problems related to alcohol use. By offering support and resources, EAPs can help employees address their alcohol use and improve their overall well-being.

EAPs may be offered by employers directly or through third-party providers. Typically, these programs are free to employees and their families and are completely confidential. Employees can access these services by contacting the EAP directly or through their employer’s human resources department.

EAPs for alcoholism can be an important resource for employees who are struggling with alcohol addiction. By providing early intervention and support, these programs can help employees overcome their addiction, improve their job performance, and maintain their overall health and well-being.

Let the employee know that they are not alone and that you are there to help them. You can then give them the resources they need to get started on the road to recovery.

Offer Accommodations: How Employers Can Make Substance Abuse Treatment More Accessible

Employers can help bridge the gap between addicted individuals and addiction treatment. There are several ways that employers can make treatment more accessible for their employees. Here are some strategies to consider:

Offer accommodations: Depending on the employee’s situation, consider offering accommodations such as a flexible schedule or time off for treatment.

Offer healthcare benefits: Providing healthcare benefits, including mental health coverage, can make a significant difference in ensuring that employees have access to the care they need.

Create a supportive work environment: Employers can create a supportive work environment that prioritizes mental health and wellness. This can include offering mental health days, encouraging employees to take breaks, and promoting a culture of openness and support.

Offer flexible work arrangements: Employers can offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible schedules, to help employees manage their mental health needs.

Reduce stigma: Employers can work to reduce the stigma associated with mental health by promoting mental health awareness and education, providing training on how to support colleagues with mental health challenges, and creating a culture of empathy and understanding.

By implementing these strategies, employers can help ensure that their employees have access to the care they need and create a supportive work environment that prioritizes mental health and wellness.

Create a supportive environment: Create a supportive and non-judgmental environment that encourages employees to seek help and talk openly about their struggles. Educate coworkers about alcoholism and encourage them to be supportive and understanding.

Remember, alcoholism is a disease that requires treatment and support. By providing resources and support, you can help employees overcome their addiction and lead a healthy, productive life.

If you or an employee is struggling with alcohol addiction or any other type of substance use disorder, look for a rehab near you and learn more about the various treatment options that are available. This way, you can boost workplace productivity and improve people’s lives in the process.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.


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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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