How to Handle Alcoholism in the Workplace

Alcohol is enjoyed by millions of Americans every day. While most people can drink without forming a dependency or addiction to alcohol, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism predicts that one in every 13 adults abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. Alcoholism is a chronic disease whose onset is subject to a person’s psychological condition, genetics, and environment.

As an employer, what your employees do in their free time is not typically any of your concern. However, once an employee’s performance begins to decay due to off-the-clock factors, you may want to intervene in the appropriate manner.

There are many warning signs that an employee may be coping with alcoholism. Studies indicate that people who are alcoholic are at least 300% more likely to miss work. They may quickly use all their sick days, frequently take Fridays and Mondays off, or seem to always have some household emergency to deal with that precludes them from coming in to work. Alcoholics use these kinds of tactics to abuse your trust to stay home and drink. dealing with alcoholism in the workplace

Alcoholics┬á and drug abusers are also likely to allow their work performance to suffer drastically, especially if they are intoxicated at work. While just about everyone has a bad day every so often, a long term pattern of deteriorating work quality can be a warning sign that something in an employee’s personal life is affecting him or her professionally.

Employees who present these issues alongside a change in mood or attitude could be a cause for concern, as they are likely to affect the productivity and happiness of other employees.

While you should never try to diagnose an employee’s alcoholism yourself, and it is inappropriate to outright accuse an employee of being alcoholic, there are measures you can take. Most employers offer a confidential “Employee Assistance Program” that is designed to handle these kinds of touchy and personal matters. Through the program, an employee can be offered counseling and a professional opinion can be formulated by the counselor, who will know what the necessary steps to take from there are.

Because alcoholism is a disease, it’s important to remain sensitive to individuals who are suffering from it rather than harshly punish them for not meeting their work obligations. If possible, allow them appropriate time for rehabilitation, especially if the employee has been loyal or with the company for a long time. Recovering from alcoholism is a long and difficult process and the support of an employer can really help a person feel valued.

2 Responses to “How to Handle Alcoholism in the Workplace”

  1. Law is always so puzzling to me, thanks for making sense of it.

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