Updated: 2022, Jul 20

5 Effects of Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace

Alcohol is often used to relax and unwind after a long day, but when people bring alcohol to work, problems arise.

Alcohol abuse or misuse can cause serious health effects, relationship issues, and problems in the workplace. Alcoholism from employees can create a financial burden for employers and companies. When a person comes to the workplace with alcohol problems, it not only affects their performance but also can affect co-workers, supervisors, and team members.

5 Effects of Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace
Alcoholism in the Workplace. Image/Shutterstock

What Is Alcoholism in the Workplace?

While having a hangover from drinking the night before coming to work is a serious problem, alcoholism in the workplace includes drinking right before going to work or drinking while on the job. Negative effects of alcohol abuse in the workplace include:

#1 Making Mistakes

Making a mistake at work due to alcohol can be as simple as making a typo to something as serious as forgetting to put the safety on a chain saw. Sample mistakes in an industry may include bad accounting that leads to financial and potentially legal ramifications, sending correspondence to the wrong person and creating communication issues, and not setting the parking brake on a bulldozer, leading to serious injuries.

#2 Co-Worker Confrontations

Some people who misuse alcohol may become belligerent, short-tempered, or argumentative, which may damage the relationship between co-workers. If an employer notices one of their employees being unusually mean-spirited, flirtatious, or noncommunicative, they should intervene and ask the employee to go home and seek treatment.

#3 Being Absent or Disappearing From the Job

Alcohol abuse can lead to hangovers, nausea, vomiting, and a general sense of malaise. When people feel sick or unfocused due to misuse of alcohol, they often call in sick and miss work. Calling in sick because of a hangover can cause issues within the workforce. Co-workers may have to take on the burden of extra work, deadlines may not get met, and customers may not receive goods or services on time.

Some people may leave work early to go to the bar, take extended lunch breaks to have a drink, or sneak out to their car for a sip of alcohol. Coming back to work with alcohol in their system is unsafe, unwise, and unacceptable.

#4 Missed Deadlines

Effects of alcohol abuse in the workplace include missing deadlines. Alcohol can cause memory issues, lack of concentration, or reduced problem-solving skills. If an employee misses a deadline due to alcohol abuse, their co-workers may need to finish the job or the company can lose revenue.

#5 Unintentional Injuries

As alcohol affects the central nervous system, people who abuse alcohol often have issues with coordination. Employees like roofers, heavy machine operators, construction workers, and those working in a machine or auto shop may cause injuries to themselves or others. People who drive for a living, such as school bus drivers, cab drivers, or ride-hailing drivers, can cause serious injury or death to anyone riding in the vehicle.

Alcohol abuse in the workplace can have serious effects on your ability to perform your job, create negative interactions with co-workers, and may result in losing your job. If alcohol is affecting you in the workplace, seek treatment for alcohol abuse. After treatment, you’ll feel refreshed, mentally alert, and ready to be back in the workplace.

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Claire Polansky, Ph.D. M.A.

Claire Polansky is a content writer for Tel Aviv University and a freelance writer deeply committed to health, animal welfare, and soci

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