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Ten Signs of a Drinking Problem at Work

Published: 21/09/2007

Every autumn, treatment clinics see a sharp increase in the number of people seeking their help with alcohol abuse problems.

In many cases, that's because people find that have fallen into drinking habits over the summer holidays that they subsequently find impossible to break. For some, it can be the start of a life of secret drinking and deception.

"Holiday season is the perfect partner for problem drinkers sun, sea and sangria provides the perfect excuse for excessive drinking. But it is a critical time for people to become dependent on drink and find they cannot shake the habit back at work," explains Sue Allchurch, director of the Lynwode Group.

Not everyone will recognise that they have a problem or have the strength to face up to it, she adds, Many will hit 'rock bottom' before asking for help and some will die.

Others, fortunately, will seek out the help of an alcohol abuse clinic and commence a treatment programme as soon as they spot the warning signs. So what are these signs?

  1. Lunchtime drinking - encouraging colleagues to pop out for a swift half on a regular basis. Swapping food for a liquid lunch. Using the excuse of client entertainment to over-indulge.
  2. Clock watching - counting down to the time you can leave work and have a drink. Focussing on that drink more than your work
  3. Encouraging colleagues to drink - always up for a quick drink after work & mocking those who refuse? Often the quick drink ends with you being the last person to leave the bar.
  4. Hiding drink at work - a bottle in the filing cabinet, a hip flask or a miniature in your handbag.
  5. Double-checking emails sent the previous afternoon or evening after a few drinks as you cannot quite remember what you wrote - or who you wrote to.
  6. Needing a drink to give you confidence before a meeting.
  7. Using any excuse to have a drink - a bad day, for example, or a difficult boss.
  8. Going in to work with a hangover at least once a week.
  9. Regularly being late for work and taking more sick leave.
  10. Taking offence if people point out how much you are drinking or comment on a drop in work performance.

"The only people who can do anything about a drinking problem are the problem drinkers themselves," warns Allchurch.

Unless workers suffering from alcohol dependency are prepared to admit to the problem and ask for help, she adds, there is little that colleagues and employers can do.

One thing they should NOT do, she warns, is enable the alcoholic. "That means not making excuses for them or taking on their responsibilities."


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