Try These Tips to Support Someone with Alcohol Addiction in the Workplace
When a person has a drinking problem, it may be overlooked by many others for years, even decades, because it seems to be ‘just what that person does.’ Typical behavior associated with addiction may go unnoticed or challenged, even in the workplace. One of the most challenging aspects of addiction is noticing the signs and confronting the person with the issue in a compassionate manner. Work-related alcoholism can cause many issues for that person but may also put others at risk, depending on their job. Learn more about how to support someone who may have a drinking problem but also brings it to the workplace.
Industry and Alcoholism
More than people might think, the type of industry has something to do with how many people struggle with alcoholism. The rate of problem drinking varies from industry to industry but some of the higher rates of drinking amongst employees include:
- Food service industry
- Arts and entertainment
- Construction work
Some other professions may include professional jobs like business executives or lawyers and those who work long hours with drinking culture as part of the social aspects of the job.
Why it Matters
One of the biggest effects of drinking alcohol in the workplace is that people are less consistent. They do not show up for work, show up with hangovers or other effects of having been drinking the night before or before work. People affected with alcoholism can increase their risk of injury at work or may injure others. Light drinking can lead to increased risk but people who drink consistently and develop alcoholism are at a higher risk of causing harm to themselves or others. Some common signs that should not be overlooked:
- Smelling like alcohol at work
- Unexplained changes to mood or behavior
- Falling asleep on the job repeatedly
- Avoiding contact with others at work
- Missing deadlines or meetings
- Making excuses to explain workplace deficiencies
- Chronic absenteeism
How to Respond
When a loved one struggles with alcoholism, they are likely to drink anywhere they can because, at some point, that is all that matters. Their brain and body crave alcohol all the time and they are more likely to bring this issue with them to work. Someone who drinks and is caught at work with this issue may be asked to seek treatment may return without consequence. It depends on the job and situation. However, follow-up care is crucial to maintaining sobriety. Sometimes, that means leaving a job that triggers alcohol use. To provide the best support, a person needs:
- Time off for treatment
- Have HR check insurance and other coverages for treatment
- Set up safeguards and checks at work to ensure compliance
- Connect with loved ones outside of work for support
- Engage supportive community either through work or outside work such as 12-step groups or other places to connect and share about addiction
Only the person with alcoholism is going to know what they need in the moment to stay sober. If the workplace is toxic or unsupportive of staying sober, it may be time to look for a new job. There may also be a need to seek out addiction support services that offer mental health help and can provide a safe space to talk about issues that are affecting sobriety. Offering support behind the scenes and at work can have a positive impact on a person’s ability to function without alcohol both on and off the clock.
The Palmetto Center understands the needs of professionals in the workplace. We design our programs to help people who struggle to function without alcohol find hope and healing after addiction. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.