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How to Help an Alcoholic Employee or Colleague

If you work for a large employer, it’s likely you will at some point or another, be faced with the situation where a colleague is experiencing alcoholism. Alcoholism is utterly indiscriminate in who it affects. Alcoholism could affect employees at all levels, including directors, managers, supervisors, and ordinary workers.

Many people suffering from alcoholism will do so for many years. Merely because you have noticed the signs of alcoholism, these facts are unlikely to be ‘news’ to the person or persons concerned. Furthermore, alcoholism is a progressive disorder. This means alcoholism isn’t ‘caught’ overnight. Instead, alcoholism typically progresses over many years.

The signs of alcoholism become more noticeable with time. Sufferers are said to hit ‘rock bottom’ when the symptoms of alcoholism become too great to bear. The typical signs of alcoholism that are noticeable in the workplace include unexplained absence and a reduction in overall work performance. Sometimes, the sufferer may experience a ‘cataclysmic outburst’. For an example of this, watch this interview with Ben Affleck before he entered an alcohol rehab centre.

Similar to other forms of addiction, alcoholism does not just affect the sufferer directly. Instead, the sufferer’s family members and friends will also be affected. Likewise, colleagues will also become affected by virtue of their contact with an alcoholic employee. It is thought that around 3-5% of the UK workforce is alcohol dependent, and this costs the economy around £6 billion each year in lost productivity.

If you believe an employee is suffering from alcoholism, you need to decide whether you will support this person in seeking out and following up with treatment. It is unlikely an employee’s alcoholism will ‘go away’ by itself. Attending a residential rehab clinic is perhaps the most effective way of treating alcoholism, and if you have in place employee health insurance, it may be possible that this policy will cover the cost of sending your employee to rehab.

Alcoholism is regarded as a disease, and this disease is highly treatable. If the employee in question is highly valued, then it really does make sense for the employee to seek out effective rehab treatment for alcoholism.

In order for your employee to attend rehab, he or she needs to initially overcome denial and admit that professional help is required. Unfortunately, there still exists a stigma around alcoholism, and your employee may deny the existence of his or her alcoholism due to the fear of being dismissed. You must, therefore, help to extinguish these fears when you address the issue with your employee.

It may help to put in place an HR policy dealing with alcoholism. This will help to extinguish your employee’s fear of openly discussing his or her drinking problem. You could mention this policy in posters, the staff handbook, and company bulletins. This will help to remove the stigma about seeking help for alcoholism.

Other than considering your employee to attend rehab, you should also encourage the employee to visit his or her GP. Doing so may allow your employee the ability to attend an outpatient programme that’s NHS funded. If it is deemed your employee is physically dependent on alcohol, he or she will need to attend an alcohol detox clinic. Here, the employee will undergo a clinically assisted detox.

An alcohol detox programme is seldom funded by the NHS unless your employee’s condition is life-threatening. By far the quickest way to getting into an alcohol detox clinic is to self-fund treatment. Some rehab clinics also accept payment via a valid medical insurance policy.

Also, it is important to avoid delay in dealing with the problem. Early intervention is key because alcohol is a progressive disorder. If you avoid the problem, we guarantee the problem will only get worse.

To find out which rehab clinics accept insurance, contact Rehab 4 Addiction today on 0800 140 4690. Alternatively, contact us through this website.

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