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A report found that work-related alcohol misuse costs the UK economy between £5.1 billion and £6.4 billion a year. 
In Northern Ireland, alcoholism is thought to be responsible for 3-5% of all workplace absences, translating to around £2.38 million in cost to businesses. 
While there is no definite statistic to determine the occupations most impacted by alcoholism, it is well-understood how widely the condition has a negative influence.
The professions commonly affected include:
While alcoholism can develop for an array of personal reasons, an individual’s job might contribute if it is high-stress and demands high standards. Individuals can turn to alcohol as a way to cope with this kind of pressure on their minds and body.
Not only does alcoholism impact individuals on a physical and emotional level, but it also has consequences for the workplace in general. These include:
There are several clear signs that indicate when a co-worker has spent their weekend drinking. They are often the more obvious symptoms of a hangover, including a sensitivity to light, irritability, and nausea.
However, if a co-worker consistently demonstrates this kind of behaviour, it could indicate that they have a drinking problem.
When a co-worker drinks a lot, it will start becoming evident in their appearance. They might take less care in how they dress, carry the smell of alcohol, and walk unsteadily.
Over time, long-term changes might manifest like bloodshot eyes.
Along with this physical evidence, changes can occur in how co-workers interact with others. They might become more irritable, have angry spells, and become increasingly disengaged in conversations.
One of the most common signs of alcoholism is isolation. In the workplace, this usually manifests in regular absences. Affected individuals are late more often, use sick leave more, and are more likely to be absent without explanation.
They can also disappear for large portions of the day. It is important to take note of when these absences/disappearances take place, as Mondays and Fridays (as well as after payday) are signs that alcohol is involved.
Alcohol impacts how well individuals function and carry out their responsibilities. In the workplace, this can be one of the most obvious signs of alcoholism.
Co-workers can take unusually long to complete tasks, miss deadlines altogether, sleep during working hours, or produce work of lower quality.
One of the biggest signs of alcoholism, though also one of the toughest to spot, is when co-workers bring alcohol into the workplace. They might hide it in an opaque container, or pass it off as another drink.
While the signs of withdrawal can range from person to person, there are common symptoms that individuals experience when sober. A co-worker might be struggling with alcoholism if they, for example, experience shaking, sweating, heart problems, or anxiety.
When you spot the signs of alcoholism in a co-worker, it can be a daunting situation to find yourself in. You might feel the best course of action is to talk to the individual directly – not wanting to involve others in fear of upsetting them – but this is not advised.
According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), employers have a duty of care for their employees, and this means that they must be prepared to support anyone who finds themselves struggling with alcoholism.
The HSE clarifies that every workplace should have a policy prepared in order to effectively deal with supporting employees in this scenario. For this reason, the best course of action when identifying alcoholism is to make your superiors aware.
The policy of a workplace will then be triggered. Employers might then, for example, ensure that the individual is relieved of their duties or transferred to a position that does not put them at risk – especially when that employee uses machinery or does the heavy lifting. 
Going forward, the relevant staff will try to approach the individual about their dangerous behaviour and offer them support in terms of accessing alcohol rehab.
Every workplace will have its own policy to deal with alcoholism in the workplace, but there are a number of things that can be done in order to make the process of supporting that individual and steering them in the right direction a smoother process.
It is not simply the well-being of an employee that is protected when alcoholism in the workplace is properly addressed. Doing so also reaps the following rewards:
Please get in touch with our dedicated team for more advice on 0800 111 4108.