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How to address alcoholism in the workplace

As an employer, you might be wondering whether it is your place to approach an employee about an alcohol problem at work and, if so, how to go about it. Raising this kind of subject can be a daunting task, nevertheless it could be a conversation that ends up saving a life. In this blog, alcohol rehab experts, Port of Call will explore a few different ways to discuss alcohol abuse in the workplace with a colleague in need.
How to address alcoholism in the workplace

Alcoholism in the workplace

According to the NHS, “Today around nine-million adults drink at levels that pose some risk to their health with 2.2 million drinking at higher-risk of harm. An estimated 1.6 million may have some degree of alcohol dependence. Of these, around 250,000 are believed to be moderately or severely dependent and may benefit from structured alcohol treatment. People with less severe alcohol problems may benefit from less intensive interventions.”

Given these high statistics, it is inevitable that there are a large number of working adults who currently have an alcohol addiction. Most employed people dealing with an alcohol addiction will not voice their problems, out of fear of being judged and possibly losing their job. Denial can often be a factor that enhances an alcohol addiction problem, due to the person feeling lonely with no-one to turn to. Although addressing a colleague’s alcohol addiction is a sensitive issue, it is also one that will help them in the long run, and could be the reason that they reach out for help.

How to approach the issue of alcoholism in the workplace

Approaching anyone about alcoholism is a subject that needs to be handled with compassion. Addressing someone in the workplace about alcohol can be an even more delicate situation as fear of judgement may lead to the person being in denial. Such situations could result in that person reacting in a defensive way. Do not let these factors stand in the way of you approaching someone in the workplace about alcohol. You could be the one to help them find the help that they need to improve their health, wellbeing and quality of life on the whole.

It is important to approach people in the right manner. Firstly, you should adopt a non-accusatory and a non-judgmental attitude. As well as carefully selecting dialogue to use, for example; try to avoid words that are associated with heavy stigma like ‘addiction’ and ‘alcoholism’. Having said this, it is important to give an honest assessment of how their situation is affecting their ability to do their job.

Without sounding too harsh, a stark ultimatum can often be a powerful tool in this situation. Employees often panic at the thought of losing their job, forcing them to resolve their drinking problem. Ultimately, when it comes to alcohol in the workplace you must make it clear that you will fully support your employees through this process and help them get the help that they need.

Staging an intervention

You might find that the person is in denial and being very defensive. At this point, you may decide to stage a professional and structured intervention. There are many advantages to this approach, including that it can be very effective when you are unsure of how to handle someone’s reactions.

How to stage an intervention for alcohol in the workplace

Interventions are effective because they show people how their addiction has a broad range of impacts on their lives, relationships, work performance and friendships. The earlier you reach out to your colleague about alcohol at work, the sooner they can find the help that they need to get on the road to recovery. To stage an intervention, there will usually be a counsellor or interventionist, as well as friends, family or work colleagues. Interventions often remind people that there are people who deeply care about them and that their addiction is effecting people other than them.

Organising an intervention through Port of Call for alcohol addiction in the workplace

If you feel that you might need to organise an intervention for a colleague, family member or friend, contact Port of Call. We will arrange every aspect of a professional intervention programme for your loved one. Following this, we will carry out a free, confidential assessment over the phone. All interventions will be led by a fully qualified counsellor or interventionist throughout the whole process.

To contact us about alcohol in the workplace, or any other addiction issue, please call us on 08000029010 or email help@portofcall.com. If you’re looking for help with addiction in Cheshire, London and beyond – we can provide help across the UK.

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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