Should you find yourself wondering how to support an employee suffering from alcoholism during COVID-19, you have come to the right place.

Below, we have delved into alcoholism in the workplace, the signs that alcoholism is present and why supporting employees suffering from alcoholism is so important during COVID-19.


Alcoholism in The Workplace. How Common Is It?

A study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 10% of employees across the country suffer from alcoholism. However, with a limited number of employees willing to confide in their employers, alcoholism in the workplace is often overlooked.

It is a common misconception that individuals suffering from alcoholism will be unable to function, fulfil their duties or continue working. Many individuals suffering from alcoholism are functioning alcoholics.

Unlike the stereotypical portrayal of an alcoholic, functioning alcoholics can go about their typical daily routine. They will continue to fulfil any responsibilities or obligations that they have committed to and will, in many cases, continue to work.

They will often show no signs that they are suffering from alcoholism and will instead keep their addiction a secret.


Employers Are Often Unaware That Employees Are Suffering from Alcoholism

Combined with the ramifications that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have on employers and their employees, alcoholism continues to escalate.

However, the unfortunate reality is that employers have minimal knowledge with regards to alcoholism in the workplace.

In fact, a survey conducted by the CIPD determined that a mere one-fifth of UK employers are trained to identify, manage and tackle alcoholism at work.

Although an employer will be able to identify that an employee’s behaviour, performance or attitude has changed, these factors are more likely to be associated with COVID-19.


Signs That Alcoholism Is Present in The Workplace

If you have found yourself searching for answers surrounding why supporting employees suffering from alcoholism is so important during COVID-19, it is highly likely that you have observed many differences in one or more of your employees.

Before confronting an employee, we would encourage you to distinguish if you have observed any of the below signs or symptoms in your employee;

  • – Lack of productivity
  • – Decline in work performance
  • – Failure to attend meetings, either in person or virtually
  • – Increased amount of sick days
  • – Slurred speech
  • – Lack of concentration
  • – Changes in physical appearance
  • – Appearing to be agitated
  • – Suffering from intense mood swings


Why Supporting Employees Suffering from Alcoholism is So Important During COVID-19

Over the last nine months, individuals across the world have felt the ramifications of COVID-19. From being forced to work from home to being furloughed, the number of individuals turning to alcohol to soothe their fears, stress and anxiety levels have surged. Sadly, this has caused alcoholism to intensify.

Supporting employees suffering from alcoholism is so important during COVID-19 as the repercussions felt can cause alcohol addictions to escalate. Although alcoholism can be treated, in some cases, alcoholism can impair an individual’s life beyond repair.

Left untreated, the repercussions of COVID-19 on an individual’s alcoholism could cause the individual to suffer from devastating and often irreversible consequences. These include, but are not limited to;

  • – Heightened mental health disorders
  • – Heart failure
  • – Liver disease
  • – Kidney disease
  • – Cancer
  • – Malnutrition
  • – Memory loss


In many instances, the support that employees suffering from alcoholism receive from employers is so important as it may be the only support that they obtain.


How Can Employers Support an Employee Suffering from Alcoholism During COVID-19?

If you have reason to believe that an employee is battling alcoholism, we have shared several ways that you can support employees suffering from alcoholism during COVID-19 below.


Initiate A Conversation with Your Employee

As an employer, there will often be times that you will be able to gauge whether your employees are acting differently. This is often observed through their behaviour and even workplace performance.

However, as touched on above, many employers will assume that this is because of the consequences that COVID-19 and working from home has had on their employees.

As and when you observe a difference in behaviour or workplace performance, it is entirely understandable that you will want to address this.

If you have reason to believe that the changes in behaviour and reduced work performance are a result of alcoholism, it is highly advised that you take a different approach in confronting your employee than you typically would.

If your employee is yet to discuss their alcoholism with anyone, they will likely feel overwhelmed when you approach them.

As you discuss your recent observations with your employee, you must avoid sounding confrontational, judgemental and standoffish. Instead, you must show empathy.


Reduce Their Workload

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. As mental health disorders and alcoholism often come hand in hand, if your employee is suffering from alcoholism, you could support them by reducing their workload.

In doing so, not only will your employee have the ability to obtain treatment, but they will find that their stress levels gradually decrease. In turn, this has the potential to reduce their consumption levels.


Refer Your Employee to Rehab for Professional Support

If your employee has become dependent on alcohol, and you believe that they would benefit from professional support, there are a plethora of rehabs across the United Kingdom that accept professional referrals.

From virtual therapy sessions and support groups to residential rehabilitation treatment, although COVID-19 has drastically changed how organisations can operate, rehabs across the country remain open to support those in need.

With an understanding of why supporting employees suffering from alcoholism is so important during COVID-19, if you find yourself looking to obtain advice and support for your employee, please do not hesitate to contact a rehabilitation centre or health professional.

Your help could ultimately save your employee’s life.


Raffa Bari - Author - Last Updated: 11 January 2021

Raffa Bari (Bsc, CertEd, CELTA, NLP Prac, BAAT) has an extensive background in addiction recovery, specialising in areas such as Integrative Art Psychotherapy (BAAT Registered) for addiction treatment.

Using her incredible dedication and passion towards personal transformation and recovery, Raffa has helped truly transform the lives of so many individuals.

It is this extensive knowledge and hands-on experience in everything to do with addiction recovery that makes her the perfect author for our site.

Raffa will be posting regularly with new updates and information on the latest industry topics to do with addiction and mental health.

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