Have you ever had an alcoholic beverage or two at an office holiday party? Many American workplaces allow this type of occasional alcohol consumption. However, people who are regularly drinking alcohol on the job face serious risks.
Poor Job Performance
Alcohol negatively affects areas of your brain associated with concentration, memory, and judgment. Thus, when you drink at work, you may have trouble focusing and staying productive.
According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, alcohol use has been linked to missed deadlines, incomplete assignments, unmet production quotas, absences, and other work-related issues. If these issues persist, you could lose your job.
Along with causing poor judgment and impairment, alcohol can hinder your movement and coordination. That’s why drinking at work raises your risk of physical injuries such as slips, falls, and burns.
Alcohol also makes you more likely to cause accidents that put your co-workers in danger. For example, you could drop an object that ends up striking someone.
According to the United States Department of Labor, about 65% of workplace accidents are linked to alcohol or other drugs. Similarly, about 15% of emergency room patients who were injured on the job have alcohol in their systems.
Problems With Co-Workers
At first, alcohol might make you feel relaxed, happy, and social. Over time, though, it can make you moody, irritable, and even aggressive. These effects could lead to conflicts with your co-workers and create a difficult, less productive work environment.
When you regularly drink at work, you may experience hangovers that lead to tardiness and absenteeism. In addition, heavy drinking increases your risk of chronic health problems like depression, liver disease, and digestive issues.
These conditions can cause you to miss work even more often, as you may need time off for treatment when symptoms flare up.
Most companies forbid drinking on the job. If your employer finds out about your alcohol use, you could face serious consequences, including job termination.
Even if you only drink in secret, your co-workers may notice your bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or other signs of alcohol use. Your employer may also conduct random alcohol testing. In addition, they may suspect your alcohol use if you frequently struggle with the risks listed above.
Why Do People Drink At Work?
People drink at work for many different reasons. However, certain jobs seem to increase your risk of on-the-job drinking.
According to a study of United Kingdom workers, skilled tradespeople, such as cleaners and plasterers, are more likely to drink on the job than people with more “professional” occupations, such as doctors and lawyers.
This might be because some people find trade jobs dull or isolating, and they may use alcohol to reduce these feelings.
Unsurprisingly, the study also found higher rates of alcohol abuse among managers of bars and other alcohol-serving establishments.
How To Stop Drinking At Work
Even when you understand the risks, you might feel unable to stop drinking at work. This is a common sign of alcohol use disorder (also called alcohol addiction). Other signs of this disease include:
- loss of interest in activities that don’t involve alcohol
- loss of motivation
- tolerance (needing increasingly larger or more frequent drinks to feel the desired effects)
- physical dependence (experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like nausea and shaking when you don’t drink)
If you experience these symptoms, seek help at an alcohol abuse treatment center. You could also check if your workplace has an employee assistance program (EAP).
These programs offer free, confidential help to employees with a variety of problems, including drinking problems. They typically provide assessments, short-term counseling, and referrals to treatment centers.
At an alcohol abuse treatment center, you will have access to recovery-focused services such as:
- medical detox, in which doctors help you safely get alcohol out of your system with minimal withdrawal symptoms
- mental health counseling, in which a therapist teaches you how to cope with alcohol cravings and any mental health concerns that made you want to abuse alcohol in the first place
- medication-assisted treatment, in which doctors prescribe medications to ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol addiction
If you feel unable to control your alcohol use, please contact a Recovering Champions specialist. Our compassionate health care providers offer a variety of evidence-based treatments to help you recover from substance abuse.