Small Business Brief


Employee Addiction: How to Spot an Alcoholic at Work

Many of us enjoy a nice cold beer at the end of the day or a couple of glasses of wine here and there. Sometimes we go overboard and have a few too many on a night out. Over 86% of Americans report to drinking alcohol in their life, and many of us drink responsibly. 

But alcoholism is on the rise in the US, with a staggering 1 in 8 Americans admitting to being an alcoholic. It’s a devastating illness that can damage relationships and the health of sufferers. 

But if you’re an employer who suspects your employee is drunk at work, it can damage your business. You may think that you can spot a drunk person with ease, but functioning alcoholics can be hard to detect. Read on to find out how to spot an alcoholic at work. 

1. They Have a Poor Appearance

 Coming to work with a poor appearance is a sign of a functioning alcoholic. When they neglect to practice basic hygiene or iron their clothes, it shows that this isn’t a priority.

We’ve all come to work with coffee or jam stains on our clothes one time or another. But when they often come to work in dirty clothes or an unkempt style, it’s a sign they could be an alcoholic.

Another big indicator is if their clothes smell of alcohol too. They may have been drinking from the night before or still be drunk at work.

2. They’re More Impatient

Lots of alcoholics have a short temper and anything small can set them off into an angry rage. If they are quick to anger over small work things, it’s a sign they may be an alcoholic.

One good example is when working with computers. We all get annoyed when they don’t work for us, but an alcoholic may fly into a verbal rage at this small thing. 

Do you find that they have no patience for common work problems? This could show that they are suffering from something bigger

3. They Won’t Talk About Their Personal Life

At work, it’s common to make small talk about family life and how things are going at home. But if you have an alcoholic at work, they may be very cagey about this part of their lives.

The chances are, their home life isn’t so great and it could have caused them to drink. They may feel like you’re interrogating them and lash out when you ask them about their personal life. 

If they find a program that will help them detox and get clean, they can learn to recognize these triggers. This will help them deal with stresses and learn how to manage them in a healthy way.

4. They Shirk Their Responsibilities

We all have different responsibilities at work. Whether it’s getting that project done by the deadline or managing a team, it all matters. But an alcoholic will not see these as a priority anymore.

You may notice that they often miss deadlines or their work comes back below par. Their addiction takes center stage and this can cause your business to suffer too. 

We all mess up here and there, but if it happens all the time, it’s a sign your employee could have a drinking problem.

5. Unexplained Absences

If you have an alcoholic at work, there’s a good chance that they often have unexplained absences. It may not be uncommon for them to disappear throughout the day or not turn up at all.

They may make a lot of excuses about why they can’t come into work. There’s a good chance that they are too drunk to come in, or they left early to go and drink. 

This causes tension in the workplace when others depend on them or if they fall behind on important work. Their work performance suffers and you may find that they’re costing you money too.

6. Falling Asleep At Work

We’re all guilty of nodding off for 5 or 10 minutes after a late night or an early morning. But for most of us, we shake it off, grab a coffee and get on with work.

Alcohol makes us more tired and slows us down, so you may notice your employee falling asleep at work. If they’re asleep at their desk or disappear to sleep in their car at break times, it can be a sign of alcoholism.

This can hurt your business as it can lead to missed deadlines and shoddy work. If clients visit the office and see your employee asleep, it can be embarrassing for you both.

7. They Have a Negative Attitude

As stated earlier, alcoholics have a short temper and can be quick to anger at work. But not only can they be angry, but they may also have a constant negative attitude.

Alcohol is a depressant, and you may notice that your employee is gloomy with a negative attitude.

We all have bad days, but they aren’t an everyday occurrence. When every day is negative, your employee may be going through something heavy.

These Are Signs You Have an Alcoholic At Work

When one of your employees is an alcoholic, it can have a negative impact on your business as well as their health. It’s a sad situation and it’s important to handle it with care. If these signs point to an alcoholic at work, it’s important to take action and act fast.

Concerned your employee may have a drug addiction? Read on for 8 signs of a functioning drug addict at work.