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Functional Alcoholism at Work


Is there a problem with functioning alcoholics at work?

There are a number of dangers associated with employee alcohol and drug addiction problems. The affected employee’s productivity and quality of work will be affected. In addition, one employee’s behaviour may have implications for the productivity and emotional well-being of the entire workplace. It can cause disagreements between colleagues if the person suffering from addiction problems becomes argumentative or complacent in their responsibilities. If working in a safety sensitive environment, it is imperative that the employee is not under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Most employers have policies prohibiting alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace.

What can employers do about functional alcoholism in the workplace?

An employer’s actions regarding employee alcoholism or drug addiction in the workplace should be informed by their policies on drug and alcohol use. Any actions taken regarding a particular employee should be kept strictly confidential from the rest of the office.

In cases of suspected employee addiction, employers should liaise with the human resources department to handle it with the utmost sensitivity. The case should be dealt with confidentially, without being discussed with other employees of the company. For more guidance on how to handle these cases, the Health and Safety Executive has published a guide for employers about employee drug addiction in the workplace.

Support for Employers: How Smarmore Castle helps Employers

Smarmore Castle offers support to employers on how to handle drug and alcohol addiction in the workplace. This ranges from specialist advice on how to provide support to an employee, to help staging an intervention, and subsequent diagnosis of the problem and referral to our residential, rehab programme.

Our programme incorporates a medically supervised detox, as well as an intensive programme of therapy. Studies of patient outcomes have demonstrated that our clinical model is a highly effective way to treat alcohol and drug addiction.


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Smarmore Castle is located near Ardee, County Louth, about 45 minutes north of Dublin, Republic of Ireland and 1.5 hours south of Belfast, Northern Ireland.