Alcoholism in the Workplace
Alcoholism Among Professionals
Every day, millions of Americans juggle multiple responsibilities including work, school, activities, and caring for household. Sometimes though, a person can take on too many commitments and spread themselves too thin. Alcohol is often used to relax and unwind after a long day, but when people bring alcohol to work, problems arise. Alcoholism in the workplace is a troublesome symptom of a drinking habit.
There are currently more than 123 million full-time American workers. Of those, roughly 65 percent aged 18 and older say they drink. This is substantially higher than the 53 percent of unemployed adults who consume alcohol. While many workers are social drinkers and only consume moderate amounts of alcohol, others are unable to control how much they drink.
Alcoholism in the workplace is a huge financial burden for companies. In fact, companies across the nation spend anywhere between $33 billion and $68 billion annually due to employee alcohol abuse. This figure includes absenteeism, health complications, on-the-job injuries and other losses in productivity. When an employee is struggling with alcohol use, it not only affects the individual, but also those around them – supervisors, coworkers and project team members.
If you’re ready to quit drinking, it’s important to know that you’re not alone on your road to recovery. No matter where you seek treatment, you will be surrounded by specialists and peers who will provide motivation and encouragement every step of the way. It’s time to live a happy, healthy and alcohol-free life. Call us now to get started on your recovery plan.
Jobs Most Affected by Alcoholism
The effects of alcoholism tend to be seen in some industries more than others. Oftentimes, job functions that see higher rates of drinking problems are those that come with higher levels of danger.
The occupations most affected by alcohol use are:
- Bartenders – 2.33 times more likely than average to die from an alcohol-related death
- Shoe machine operators – 2 times more likely
- Roofers – 1.87 times more likely
- Painters – 1.85 times more likely
- Cooks – 1.77 times more likely
- Sailors – 1.75 times more likely
- Construction laborers – 1.72 times more likely
Other job industries associated with a high chance of developing drinking problems include the drilling and mining industry, food service employers, the excavation industry, and workplaces related to the installation, repair and maintenance of different kinds of equipment.
An estimated 21 percent of American workers have said they were put in danger, injured, had to redo a project or work extra hours due to a colleague’s drinking.
Roughly 45 percent of full-time employees, except for those who are self-employed, have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at work. Unfortunately, only about a little more than one percent of employees use their EAP.
Workplace absenteeism among heavy drinkers is between three and eight times greater than normal.
Identifying Alcoholism in the Workplace
There are two primary types of alcohol use that contribute to the majority of problems in the workplace: drinking alcohol before going to work and drinking alcohol while working. Both of these are extremely harmful and can put an employee, as well as others, in danger. Warning signs of a potential drinking problem vary from person to person. Some people are secretive about their alcohol consumption, drinking only in private. Others may not even realize they have a problem until a family or friend has an open and honest conversation with them.
Several ways an employer, or a colleague, can determine if an employee is under the influence include:
- Appears hungover or is still intoxicated
- Lack of coordination
- Has bloodshot or glossy-looking eyes
- Slow pupil response
- Inability to complete work assignments
- Starts to sweat heavily
- Slurs speech
- Becomes nauseous and pale
These warning signs should not be taken lightly and must be handled immediately. There are alcohol treatment options available across the United States to help individuals overcome a drinking problem and get back on their feet. Contact a treatment provider today to find rehab facilities nearby.
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Negative Effects of Alcoholism on the Workplace
An employee’s drinking habits can affect companies, regardless of how large or small the organization may be. Another factor to consider is how an individual’s alcohol use impacts their close family members and friends. Those who live with an alcoholic are more at risk of suffering from workplace problems. For instance, a loved one may have a difficult time concentrating at work, need to take a number of days off or have health-related issues due to the stress of taking care of someone with an AUD.
Alcoholism in the workplace can be extremely costly to an employer. Drinking not only increases the possibility of employees getting injured, it can also lead to more on-the-job accidents. Additionally, alcohol can cause a lack of concentration and coordination in an employee’s work performance. This reduces productivity, which in turn impacts business goals and objectives.
An AUD can have short- and long-term effects on an employee. Here are some problems that can arise as a result of employee alcohol use:
- Sleeping while working
- Being tardy or not showing up
- Poor decision making
- Confrontational behavior with supervisors and coworkers
- Unintentional injuries to oneself or others
Ways the Workplace Can Help
Since the creation of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) concept by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) in the late 1940s, millions of alcoholics have received help for their dangerous drinking behaviors. A company EAP is one of the most efficient ways to combat alcohol, as well as other substance-abuse problems, in the workplace. The program helps both employees and their families access the resources needed for a successful recovery.
With a support system instilled, employers can help reduce the negative consequences of alcoholism in the workplace and assist alcoholics with starting a new alcohol-free life. Research has shown that treatment for an AUD pays for itself, as it reduces healthcare costs and employee turnover, and boosts overall productivity.
Alcoholism should only be treated in a safe and monitored environment. If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol use in the workplace, there are a number of recovery resources to help you get and stay sober.
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Alcoholism in the workplace is a sensitive topic. That’s why our treatment professionals are here to provide you with the information you need about alcohol rehab facilities and other resources.
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Clinical Reviewer — Last Reveiwed: April 18, 2019
U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Alcoholism in the Workplace: A Handbook for Supervisors. October 2016. https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/worklife/reference-materials/alcoholism-in-the-workplace-a-handbook-for-supervisors/
Roman and Blum. (2002). The Workplace and Alcohol Problem Prevention. October 2016. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-1/49-57.htm
Jacobs and Schain. Alcohol abuse in the workplace: developing a workable plan of action. October 2016. http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/09266.pdf
Alcoholics Anonymous. (1998). Is there an Alcoholic in the Workplace? October 2016. http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-54_isthereanaaintheworkplace.pdf
Hartwell, Steele, Rodman. (1998). Workplace alcohol-testing programs: Prevelance and trends. October 2016. http://www.bls.gov/mlr/1998/06/art4full.pdf
Guerin, Lisa. Handling Employee Alcohol and Drug Use. October 2016. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/handling-employee-alcohol-drug-use-30349.html
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