How to Detect Alcohol Use in the Workplace


Addiction is incredibly common and duplicitous (2.6 million folks with addictions have a dependence on both alcohol and illicit drugs, but it can be very hard to detect. The plain and simple truth is that addiction doesn\’t happen right away, and the gradual process is one that can fool the addict and all of those around them. But that oblivion can be life threatening — an addict can spiral into serious health problems, or hurt other people. In 2014 alone, there were 29,230 motor vehicle deaths, and 47,055 individuals who died because of fatal drug overdoses. In 2011, over 5 million emergency room visits were drug related.

One of the places where drug or alcohol addiction can be the most — or least — apparent is in the workplace. And this can seriously hinder productivity, so it is in an employer\’s best interest to be able to detect it if it becomes a problem. Check out this list of warning signs:

  • Tardiness or frequent lateness: These could be caused by hangovers or the consequences of drug or alcohol use.
  • A decrease in the quality and quantity of workload. Also, a sudden influx of impulsive behaviors and decisions.
  • Any change in character can indicate that there is some sort of addiction problem going on in the worker\’s private lives.
  • Unruly appearance, red eyes, smell of alchohol
  • If you detect any of these symptoms, it might be wise to have an office supervisor or a counselor speak to the employee. Helping your employee get back on their feet is a much wiser course of action than simply reprimanding them and demanding that they improve or resign. More serious issues like cocaine addiction, oxycodone addiction, methadone addiction, or Adderall addiction, among many others, may necessitate some time in recovery at a drug rehab center. But even alcohol addiction might necessitate this. Try to have tolerant policies in place that make this process a little easier on you, the employee, and the company. Cultivating a reputation as the type of company that invests in their employees and doesn\’t throw them away as soon as they are nonproductive is a very smart tool.