Dealing with someone who has an alcohol problem can be challenging in any situation, but when that person is a work colleague, it can be especially difficult. If you believe that alcohol is affecting this person’s work performance, it may mean you have to do more to make up for it or it could mean your team’s performance comes under scrutiny from management.
You may feel that this person could be at risk of being disciplined or even losing his or her job if their problems are discovered. If this person is also a friend, then you may be worried about the outcome for him or her in terms of their work situation as well as their health. If this is the case, you may be wondering if and what you should do about it.
It is important to realise that your colleague may be in denial about his or her problem. Many alcoholics do not realise that they have a problem or they may simply not want to admit it. A number of alcoholics will deny they have a problem even when it is clear to everyone around them that alcohol has become an issue. They may have a host of excuses for why they need a drink, and may offer up examples of others who drink much more than they do.
You need to realise that this person has been mentally and physically affected by the addiction and in many cases, they cannot help their actions.
Although you may suspect that your colleague has an alcohol problem, you need to be sure before you do anything about it. Excessive drinking does not always mean a person is an alcoholic, but there are signs to look out for.
An individual with an alcohol problem tends to continue drinking even though it is clearly affecting their health or relationships in a negative manner. You may notice that this person suffers from symptoms such as shaky hands when in work and not drinking, and you may notice that he or she smells of alcohol or takes measures to disguise the smell, such as chewing mint sweets or gum.
Erratic behaviour and poor work performance may also be signs of an alcohol problem, and you may notice that your colleague is taking more time off than usual.
If you are worried about your colleague, taking him or her to the side to discuss the problem could be the best solution, especially if none of your other colleagues seems to have noticed. Do not be surprised if he or she becomes defensive and angry with you – this is a common reaction among those with alcohol addiction when confronted with their behaviour.
An intervention may be another way to deal with the situation, particularly if more than one person has noticed the problem. This will involve a group of colleagues meeting with the person to discuss his or her possible alcohol addiction. However, if you do decide to stage an intervention, you should get the help of a professional counsellor because it has to be carried out correctly in order to be effective.
Rehab Helper is a free service working with addicts and their families and friends. We can help when it comes to providing information about how and where to get help; we can offer advice on intervention techniques as well. If you need help regarding an addiction issue, contact Rehab Helper today for more information.