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The Risks and Prevalence of Alcoholism in the Workplace

Alcoholism in the Workplace

There are over 15 million adults nationwide with an alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism.1

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) defines alcohol use disorder as 5 or more drinks per sitting for men and 4 or more drinks per woman. The size of a standard drink is smaller than most people realize, with many people having drinking problems that they may not recognize at first. In the workplace, alcoholism is extremely costly.2 It can destroy the health of employees and make it worse. Many businesses are taking an innovative approach to address alcoholism in the workplace by linking employees with customized treatment plans that can help them come to terms with the situation and mental challenges at hand.


The Prevalence of Alcohol in the Workplace

Alcohol use in the workplace is a prevalent issue that affects both employees and employers. It can range from occasional drinking at company events to regular consumption during work hours and can have negative consequences on productivity, safety, and the overall well-being of employees. According to a study done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an estimated 15% of employees in the United States report drinking during the workday at least once a year. This statistic highlights the extent to which alcohol use is a part of many workplaces.


Why Do Employees Resort to Drinking at Work?

There are many reasons why employees may resort to drinking at work. One common reason is job-related stress. Stressful work environments can lead employees to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. This can be especially true in high-pressure jobs where employees feel like they are constantly under scrutiny or have little control over their work. In such situations, alcohol may be seen to take the edge off or unwind after a long day.

Social pressure can also be a factor that leads employees to drink at work. In some industries or workplaces, alcohol consumption may be seen as a social norm, and employees who choose not to participate may feel excluded or ostracized. This can be particularly true in industries such as advertising, marketing, or sales, where alcohol consumption is often seen as a way to build relationships with clients or colleagues.

In these cases, employees may feel that drinking is necessary to fit in or advance their careers. However, it is important to note that while alcohol may temporarily alleviate stress or social anxiety, it can have negative consequences on job performance, safety, and overall health.


The Dangers of Alcohol in the Workplace

Alcohol consumption in the workplace can have dire consequences for both employees and employers. Here are some of the dangers of alcohol in the workplace:

  • Impaired judgment and decision-making: Alcohol can impair cognitive function, making it harder for employees to make sound judgments and decisions. This can lead to poor choices that can endanger themselves and others.
  • Reduced productivity: Consuming alcohol during work hours can reduce productivity and impair an employee's ability to perform their job duties efficiently.
  • Increased risk of accidents: Alcohol consumption can impair coordination and reaction time, leading to an increased risk of accidents in the workplace. This is particularly dangerous in jobs that require operating heavy machinery or driving.
  • Health problems: Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to serious health problems such as liver disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. These health issues can affect an employee's ability to work and increase the risk of absenteeism.
  • Legal and financial consequences: Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure a safe work environment, and allowing employees to drink alcohol during work hours can put the company at risk of legal and financial consequences.


Signs of an Alcoholic at Work

Many alcoholics think that they are “high functioning,” and they try to deny the severity of their problem. However, there are many workplace problems that can erupt from alcoholism. There are behavioral, physical, and performance signs of alcoholism. An employee may have an alcohol addiction problem if they:

  • Smell of alcohol
  • Appear drunk
  • Drink heavily on nights or weekends
  • Seem sick in the mornings
  • Are irritable or angry
  • Drink at lunch
  • Appear hungover
  • Have liver problems
  • No longer care about work
  • Have changes in appearance

Unfortunately, alcoholism also goes hand in hand with many mental health disorders. This includes depression, anxiety, and PTSD. If you see signs of alcoholism in the workplace, it’s important to act quickly and find the right alcohol treatment program, like that found at our nearby Pompano Banyan drug rehab.


How to Address and Help an Alcoholic Employee

Today’s professionals need customized treatment plans for the successful treatment of alcohol use disorder. This includes programs that address their industry's stresses and treating any personal challenges that have fueled alcoholism. Once the addiction is addressed, it is important to face the mental challenges that result in the problem in the first place. That is where our Boca Raton mental health facilities come in. We offer residential behavioral health treatment that gives patients the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the recovery experience. It is here that they are able to access the invaluable therapy sessions that serve as the environment for healing and sobriety.



At Banyan Boca mental health, we are proud to offer the necessary assistance for recovery with our Joint Commission Accredited treatment programs. Call us today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our programs and how they can help.


  1. NIH - Alcohol Facts and Statistics
  2. NIH - What Is a Standard Drink?

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How to Tell if An Employee Needs Treatment

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.