Identifying Alcohol Issues

Defining a “drinking problem” is not easy, but most will accept that it refers to an over-reliance on alcohol
to the point that it starts to impair the health, work and social functioning of an individual. Such problems
are often referred to as “alcohol misuse” and are common across all age groups.

There are many different reasons for people developing drinking problems. Stress and depression are
often cited as causes. There might be a genetic factor and those who have a family history of alcoholism
may be more likely to develop alcohol problems.


Certain features do recur:

  • many people will begin to drink heavily after losing a partner
  • marital problems, financial problems, the loss of a home, or pressures at work can precipitate drinking
  • for people who have little to look forward to, alcohol is one way to avoid loneliness and boredom
  • some people may use alcohol to cope with or to ease physical pain
  • some use alcohol for its sleep-inducing properties.

Alcohol effects on work


Sensible and moderate drinking of alcohol outside of working hours is a normal part of many people’s
lives and does not interfere with their work. However, the misuse of alcohol by some can lead to a range
of workplace and staff problems.

Potential workplace problems associated with alcohol include:

  • high levels of sickness, lateness, time off and absenteeism (alcohol misuse is estimated to cause 3–5% of all absences from work in the UK each year — about 8–14 million lost working days)
  • general reduced quality of work and poor performance caused by erratic behaviour, impaired judgment, impaired decision-making, impaired eyesight, reduced co-ordination or loss of concentration
  • safety concerns — including a reduced perception of risks or impaired reaction times
  • reduced motivation and poor work attitudes
  • low morale and poor co-operation with workmates
  • arguments, aggression and poor discipline.


All of these factors can contribute to an increased risk of accidents, mistakes and errors, particularly
when operating machinery or equipment. These could result in injuries and make an employer liable to
prosecution or litigation.



Contact us for any more tips and courses on workplace safety.

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