Alcohol and Job Loss: Getting Help before Getting Fired

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Alcoholism and job loss is a reality for many people who struggle with keeping their drinking in check. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that over 14.5 million Americans over the age of 12 have alcohol use disorder, a little more than seven percent of whom actually receive treatment for it. Over 95,000 Americans die each year from excessive alcohol consumption, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Along the way, however, alcohol addiction can systematically destroy every aspect of your life, including your career.

SAMHSA reports that most binge drinkers and heavy alcohol users are employed. Of adult binge drinkers, 79 percent (41.2 million people) are employed either full or part time. Of adult heavy drinkers, 76 percent (12.4 million people) are employed. Additionally, addiction costs employers a staggering $81 billion per year. Excessive drinking and alcoholism can lead to job loss and affect your career in a number of other ways. If you or someone you care about are drinking too much, and it’s affecting your career, here are some insights to get help before the problem escalates further.

Be Honest with Yourself

No matter how much you tell yourself you can rally, it’s important to realize when you’re drinking is controlling you and not the other way around. If you can’t abstain from alcohol on weeknights when you have to be present for work during the week, it’s time to recognize that and do something about it. Go to a meeting, dump your alcohol and make a concerted effort to get help, no matter what that may look like. Self-awareness can be one of the most powerful weapons against escalating alcohol abuse before it leads to job loss.

Be Honest with Your Boss

Alcoholism is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which means you can’t be fired for disclosing alcohol issues or going to treatment to get help. On the other hand, you can very easily get fired if alcohol impairment interferes with your job performance or causes safety issues in the workplace. The United States Department of Labor has reported that drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace causes 65 percent of on-the-job accidents and that 38 percent to 50 percent of all workers’ compensation claims are related to the abuse of alcohol or drugs in workplace. The last thing anyone wants is for employee alcoholism to get to the point of danger or impairment on the job. Have the conversation with your boss and tell them what you’re going through.

How Do I Know I Have A Drinking Problem?

Although this question, in and of itself, should indicate that your drinking has become problematic, it can still be hard for some to distinguish between “normal” amounts of drinking and alcohol abuse. Some of the more common signs of alcohol use disorder include, but are not limited to:

  • Drinking even though you tell yourself you’re going to.
  • Your drinking is causing you legal, financial or personal problems.
  • Finding yourself drinking the during the day or craving alcohol all the time.
  • Blacking out from drinking and wake up not knowing how you got where you are.
  • Lying to your friends and family about drinking.

How Do I Know Drinking Is Affecting My Career?

There are many work-related indicators that can indicate alcohol is seriously affecting your career. Alcohol may lead to job loss if:

  • You’re missing more and more days of work because you’re hung over.
  • You drive to work drunk or impaired.
  • You’re continuously late because of alcohol-related circumstances.
  • You’re drinking on the job.
  • You’re lashing out colleagues because of withdrawal-related irritability.
  • You’re missing deadlines or failing to pull your weight on projects because of drinking.

It’s only a matter of time before these issues get bigger and bigger and become too much to manage yourself. It’s important to get out in front of them and take the necessary steps to get treatment and enter recovery.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism treatment requires addressing the physical and psychological issues associated with excessive drinking through detox and rehab, but it also requires helping people get help for the lifestyle fallout they’ve sustained during their active drinking, including their career-related impact. Many organizations have policies in place for addressing workplace substance use that allow employees to get help and secure their positions once they complete their program. Recovery Unplugged works with organizations all over the country to address substance abuse in the workplace and helping their employees get the help they need so they can get back to being the vibrant and capable professionals they were at the start of their careers.

Don’t let alcohol lead to job loss and destroy your career and quality of life. Recovery Unplugged is ready to help you take your life back now.

Recovery Unplugged

About The Author

The Senior Content Writer here at Recovery Unplugged, Dominic Nicosia oversees the maintenance of our online blog while also handling and overseeing all written communications within Marketing. He also writes articles, thought leadership pieces, and basically everything written regarding web content. Dominic has over seven years...
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