Alcoholics try hard to deny that they have a problem. They take pains to hide their alcohol addiction. The deception may work for some time, but as it progresses, it becomes difficult to keep a lid on the condition. At the workplace, co-workers can easily come to know when a colleague is abusing the bottle. A fall in performance levels, shoddy appearance, absenteeism, and irritability are strong signs of alcohol abuse.

Veins raised noticeably on the skin, flushed cheeks, weight loss, weight gain, breath smelling of alcohol, trembling hands, and an unsteady walk are physical signs of alcohol abuse.

Concern for Employees

For employers, alcohol abuse by an employee is a concern because it can compromise the safety of an organization and also of other employees. An addict cannot be trusted with sensitive information. He becomes a liability on the shop-floor where machines run and strict rules have to be followed. An addict’s reaction times and decision making powers are affected. He cannot think clearly, and is incapable of taking decisions that need to be implemented in real time.

Mood Swings

Alcoholism results in distinct patterns of mood swings. An addict may be cheerful and in control of his senses when under the influence of alcohol, but will turn irritable once the effect begins to wear off. These mood swings are not conducive to maintaining a professional and cordial environment in the workplace. Withdrawal symptoms appear within six to nine hours after last consuming alcohol. This means that an addict’s co-workers have to put up with his mood swings on a daily basis.


Alcoholics are more likely to remain absent from work and this gets noticed. Hangovers after late night binges are one reason. People who step out for a drink or two with their co-workers and end up drinking too much are quickly tagged as having a problem with alcohol. Word spreads, and soon reaches the top management. Research shows that alcoholism is particularly prevalent in the food industry, construction, excavation, and installation and repair services.

Employers and colleagues have a choice in how they react to alcohol abuse by an employee and colleague. They can encourage the addict to seek treatment. An Employee Assistance Program is a good way to address alcoholism by an employee. Such a program often has trained counselors who can counsel the alcoholic on the matter and guide him on the right steps to take.

The stigma attached with alcoholism is a big reason why alcoholics try to hide the issue. If your co-worker is struggling with drink then you should be gentle and persuasive in your communication with him.

Hired Power is staffed by experienced substance abuse and mental health experts who can guide you on how to help an alcoholic colleague. Recovery from alcoholism and associated behavioral disorders is possible and achievable. Call us to learn more.