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The effects of alcoholism in the workplace

Over the years, alcoholism in the workplace has sadly become an increasingly common problem. According to studies, the increase in alcohol consumption is directly associated with stress at work. In this blog, alcohol rehab experts Port of Call highlights the dangers of alcoholism, the importance of workplace drug and alcohol policies and offers advice on combating the problem of alcoholism at work. 

alcoholism at work

Spotting alcoholism in the workplace

Below are some of the more common tell-tale signs to look out for when spotting alcoholism in the workplace:

  • Unnatural and frequent absence
  • Low productivity and change in performance standard
  • Inappropriate behaviour which may lead to disciplinary procedures
  • Poor co-worker relations
  • Lack of interest in the job
  • Mood Swings or attitude changes
  • Defensiveness about addiction
  • Seeming withdrawn

While these symptoms may not necessarily point directly to alcoholism, if you suspect a colleague has an alcohol addiction, or is abusing alcohol at work, they offer a good indication. If you believe your colleague is abusing alcohol and, when approached, they seem overly defensive, it is important to voice your concerns to an employer or line manager. They should then take action and try to support their employee when finding addiction treatment.

Employers should have workplace drug and alcohol policies in place. With common treatments supported by companies include workplace interventions and peer support groups.

Alcoholism in the workplace – a disciplinary issue or a healthcare issue?

Whilst awareness of alcoholism as an illness that can be treated is steadily improving, by law employers don’t have to offer addiction treatment. What is required is a duty of care to be mindful of alcoholism in the workplace. The extent to which any given organisation offers treatment for alcoholism, rather than a disciplinary process, often hangs on how progressive and forward thinking the organisation is.

Studies suggest the correlation between alcohol abuse and absenteeism, poor performance and workplace attitude is strong, meaning alcohol in the workplace can be very harmful to the business. Working alongside a colleague who is struggling with alcohol addiction is extremely challenging and often impacts on not only performance but also employee morale. Whilst the law may enable firms to dismiss employees if they aren’t performing, many these days see the value in helping those suffering with alcoholism rehabilitate and return to work.  Such firms often engage with specialist addiction treatment services like Port of Call who offer discreet consultations around how to manage addiction sensitively and help with the delivery of clinical and therapeutic treatment programmes.  The cost of ignoring the problem or pursuing disciplinary procedures often outweighs the costs and the benefits of rehabilitation.

Alcoholism and absenteeism in the workplace

Studies illustrate the negative impact ‘high risk’ drinking can have on employee attendance, which equates to 110g of alcohol for men and 70g for women. There is a strong correlation between absenteeism and alcoholism in the workplace, which depends on both the amount and way people consume alcohol. For example, those who drink at ‘high-risk’ levels are more likely over weekly, monthly and yearly periods to report alcohol-related absenteeism.

For advice and support about how to approach alcoholism in the workplace, please call us today on 08000029010 or email help@portofcall.com. If you’re looking for help with addiction in Cheshire, all the way down to London, we can help. 

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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