What to do if you Notice Symptoms of Alcoholism in a Co-Worker



The statistics are staggering. Over 70% of all substance abusers in the United States hold down at least one job. Now, this doesn’t mean that those individuals who are struggling with an addiction will actually use on the job, but it does affect what they do, and how they perform at work. Employers and co-workers have to deal with the consequences of sharing a workplace with the individual whose work is impacted by their use of drugs or alcohol.

Statistics on Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Looking at the statistics of substance abuse in the workplace, it is revealed that employees struggling with addiction:

  • Miss 10 working days for each one missed by other employees
  • Are only ⅔ as productive as other workers
  • Are 5 times more likely to cause accidents in the workplace
  • Are 5 times more likely to ask for worker’s compensation
  • Accrue health care costs that are 3 times higher
  • Have a role in 40% of all industrial on the job fatalities

How to Spot Alcoholism in the Workplace

Individuals who struggle with alcoholism often believe that they can function as normal in the office, that no one is able to see their drinking. This is simply not true. Among co-workers, some of the most obvious signs of alcoholism involve a decrease in performance level. Employees struggling with alcoholism might be slower to complete a job, be more prone to mistakes or have a reduced reaction time.

Then there are the physical symptoms of alcoholism which noticeable, such as

  • Rapid weight gain or loss
  • Noticeable blood vessels on the skin
  • Flushed, red nose and cheeks
  • Clumsiness or unsteadiness when standing and walking
  • Smell of alcohol on breath

Apart from the physical symptoms, most individuals struggling with alcohol will also display irritability and mood swings. And, as mentioned before, be prone to absenteeism as well as being late to work.

What to do when Alcoholism is Spotted in the Workplace

So what can employers or co-workers do if they spot the signs of alcoholism in the workplace? If employers or those in management suspect that an employee is abusing alcohol, the first step is to call the employee in for a private conversation to see if they can get to the bottom of what is going on with them. But if a fellow employee is the one to spot the signs, then it gets a little bit more complicated. Ultimately however, the co-worker may have no choice but to go to management with the issue. If possible, the co-worker should try to confront the individual and give them a chance to seek help on their own.


LEAD Recovery Center welcomes clients struggling with alcohol addiction. Our long term transitional programs help clients achieve autonomy in recovery. For more information, call us today at 1-800-380-0012.