Is there a problem with functioning alcoholics at work?

The physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments associated with alcohol intoxication and alcohol withdrawal can compromise work performance in every area in any work setting, not to mention compromising safety for the individual and his or her colleagues. Many employers have specific policies prohibiting employees from being under the influence of alcohol or other substances while conducting work-related activities.

What sorts of actions should employers take to address problems of functional alcoholism in the workplace?

An employer’s actions to address functional alcoholism in the workplace should start with the organization’s policies on substance influence in the workplace. An employer should always have the highest respect for the privacy of the employee, and if the individual needs to be referred to treatment or other recovery resources, the utmost care should be taken to protect the individual’s privacy.

Managers should consult the Human Resources department to ensure the confidential, careful, and sensitive handling of any matter related to an employee’s suspected substance abuse. Employers should never discuss an employee’s substance abuse issues with other employees, and in the event other employees report alcohol-related behaviors of concern, the employer should document the information and not discuss the matter further with the reporting party. The Health and Safety Executive has published a guide for employers concerned about drug addiction at work.

Support for Employers

Castle Craig provides specialised support for employers dealing with alcohol or drug addiction in the workplace. We offer professional advice on how to help an employee, provide assesment, diagnosis and intervention, as well as referral to our intensive residential addiction treatment programme, which includes medically supervised alcohol detox.