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Misusing alcohol and working? Here’s what you need to know.By Tim Woodley

Misusing alcohol is, for many, a thing that steadily worsens over time. It can be hard to spot the signs of your misuse becoming more serious day to day, leaving you in a very dire situation before you know it.

Today, the Help Me Stop team is talking about alcohol misuse and working: how to understand it and, eventually, begin your own path to recovery.


Seeing the signs of your substance misuse

One of the more insidious aspects of problematic alcohol use is the often slow and steady pace at which it worsens. Many misusing the substance can function at a level sufficient for their work and social life, making identifying ‘the line’ hard for the user to see for themselves.

This is particularly true for the workplace. Alcohol can affect problem solving skills, judgment, concentration, reaction times and coordination. Alcohol can have negative consequences on ‘fitness for work’ and individual health and well-being in the short and long term. Over time, alcohol misuse can reach a point where intervention is made by colleagues, managers and HR – often resulting in termination.

Heavy drinking the night before may result in a high concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream leading to 'hangover' effects during work the next day. Hangover effects can result in headaches, shakiness, nausea and vomiting as well as irritability, problems concentrating and fatigue; these effects can affect fitness for work, work attendance and performance and relationships with co-workers.

Patterns of alcohol use vary across industries and occupational groups. Some industries and occupational groups report higher proportions of risky or harmful drinking patterns than other occupational groups. This can be influenced by the people employed in the workplace, the nature of the work, the work environment and workplace culture.


Common signs of problematic alcohol use at work

If you are unsure about your use of alcohol and its effect on your work, and the severity of your situation, we recommend considering these common signs. Do any relate to you?

I’m taking more stick days: Often called absenteeism, alcohol misuse at work often leads to more days taken off for unspecified or minor sickness, particularly on Mondays after a heavy binge session at weekends.

My performance is worse: Both inappropriate behaviour and poor performance at work are common signs of a person struggling with alcohol misuse. If this has been brought to your attention, you may be in a serious situation already.

I’m more prone to accidents: Whether through being hungover or drunk directly at work, it’s common for impaired motor skills and focus to lead to more accidents and general clumsiness. This can draw quick attention to you and may lead to scrutiny from managers and HR staff.

My colleagues are doing my work: It’s often the case that colleagues see the signs of alcohol misuse without speaking up about it. This can lead to them taking on your workload when you’re unable to cope, often leading to escalation and concern.

The reputation of my company is suffering: If you’re in a customer or client facing position, it’s an unfortunate fact that alcohol misuse at work can make your company look bad. This can be a cause for quick escalation by managers and HR teams.


The consequences of alcohol misuse and working

It goes without saying that the most serious consequence of your misuse of alcohol and your employment is the loss of your job. Many struggling with problematic alcohol use know this but find it difficult to face up to the reality that their source of income could be removed. This stress can be particularly difficult to face should the person in question have a family or other loved ones to support.

It’s also important to be aware that issues with employment due to your alcohol misuse can be the catalyst for a sudden and serious downward spiral. The loss of employment can begin a chain reaction, leading to an inability to pay rent or mortgages. It can quickly put you in a position where you may feel unable to manage the new stressors in your life, leading you to turn to alcohol more than you were before.


The Dayhab solution

For many, alcohol misuse treatment is difficult to address due to commitments to work and family. We see stories of celebrities in the news flying off on private jets to residential treatment centres and wish that we could do the same. The truth, of course, is entirely different for the average person.

Help Me Stop has built its treatment service around this simple fact. Our treatment is non-residential and designed to work around common commitments such as employment and family obligations. Even better, the nature of our Dayhab model means it is available to everyday folk at a fraction of the cost of traditional residential rehab centres – without any decrease in your likelihood of achieving full recovery.


Get in touch

If you’d like to learn more about our Dayhab service, you can do so at this page of our website. We’re also available directly on the phone at 0208 191 8920. If you’d rather talk via email, simply get in touch through our contact form.


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