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Alcoholism On The Job

Those that abuse alcohol or suffer from alcoholism may often consume alcohol during work hours or show up to work already intoxicated. Sometimes those that abuse alcohol are still are able to maintain their job and are referred to as a “functioning alcoholic”. However, any form of alcoholism is dangerous, and that person more than likely will suffer physical and work-related consequences.

Alcoholism On The Job

Stress and Depression

Job stress is one of the main precursors to someone developing an alcohol use disorder. High stake deadlines, a tough boss, job stability, coworkers and commute times all contribute to high job stress rates across the nation. Many employees use alcohol to cope with their stress instead of managing it in a healthier way. What may have started as a one drink after a long day at work, turns into a few more, and eventually the alcohol consumption permeates itself during work or even before work hours begin.

Depression also plays a factor into someone self-medicating while on the job. Personal matters such as stress at home, bereavement or divorce can all play factors into someone showing up to work inebriated.

Occupational Alcohol Abuse Rates

Certain occupations and industries display higher rates of alcohol abuse and alcoholism due to high stress, hard physical toll, fast pace work environment, irregular shifts and long hours. Jobs in mining, construction, food and hospitality, arts and entertainment show some of the highest rates of alcohol abuse. This could be due to the culture of the industry for example, those in construction will customarily end the long day with drinks with their coworkers. Those in the restaurant and entertainment business are in the environment where they have constant access to alcohol.

It’s important to note that alcoholism can occur in any type of profession regardless of their education, pay rate and seniority level. CEOs of corporate companies and fast food workers can all develop alcoholism and struggle with alcoholism on the job.

Sign of Alcohol Abuse at Work

Your employees or colleagues may show signs of alcoholism with frequent tardiness or unexplained absences from work. According to OPM, absenteeism is estimated to be 4 to 8 times greater among alcoholics and alcohol abusers. Other noticeable physical signs may be declining work performances and withdrawal from other coworkers.

Signs of alcohol abuse on the job include the smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, looking disheveled, staggering or slurring, tremors, sleeping, frequent breaks or inappropriate behavior.

Showing up to work under the influence is a sign of a serious problem. Managers or coworkers should never be the one to diagnose the problem, make accusations or unfairly call out behavior. Whether or not that employee should be subject to an alcohol test is the responsibility of the HR department.

Addressing Alcohol Abuse

If you have a close relationship with your colleague, speaking to them about their behavior while they are sober may be helpful. You may feel like ignoring the issue or have even helped them hide their symptoms so they won’t get fired, but ultimately you will be hurting them. Speaking to them one on one as a friend, may help them realize their behavior has reached a severe state and changes need to be made. You can help them by offering to call a family member or finding them treatment resources and being supportive.


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