Sobriety companion and coach, Dr Bunmi Aboaba, draws on her experiences to explain what to look for and what action you should take:
Firstly, there are some simple signs to look for:
- Physical appearance, look out for sallow skin, bloodshot eyes, profuse sweating, tremors, unexplained bruising, slurred speech and rapid weight gain or loss.
- Changes in routine, such as frequently turning up late, leaving early, taking longer lunch breaks, disappearing for lengths of time and spending more time working alone.
- Lacking concentration and / or being easily confused. Alcohol causes sleep disturbances, so it affects day-to-day concentration, energy levels and productivity.
- Joking about drinking: Making jokes like $B!H(Brehab is for quitters$B!I(B or $B!H(Bwe can$B!G(Bt let these drinks go to waste, it’s criminal$B!I(B could be a sign that they are deep in denial.
- Secretive behaviour, if they$B!G(Bre using mouthwash, mints, breath spray, perfume, aftershave, etc., when it’s something they wouldn’t normally do, this could be a red flag.
- Behavioural changes: mood swings, being defensive, starting arguments, talking too quickly or slowly, no volume control or staying silent for long periods.
- Strained relationships, which could be caused by failing to commit to attending meetings, being late for important appointments, forgetting to complete tasks and missing deadlines.
However, it$B!G(Bs important to mention that drinking problems appear on a wide spectrum, from binging to dependency, so not all of the following signs may apply to everyone. Also, 50% of high-functioning alcoholics won$B!G(Bt show ANY of the above-mentioned signs.
So how can you identify the secret 50%?
You may have to dig a little deeper and pay even closer attention. Other signs:
- Drink more than everyone else at a work event, but may drink excessively before or after… or even in the toilets during proceedings
- High tolerance to alcohol (keeps on drinking at events and rarely appears drunk)
- Fits right into the existing drinking culture at the firm (if applicable)
- Will always finish a drink; will never waste a drop.
- Easily compartmentalizes work, play and personal life
- Overachieving at work to use this as proof that there isn’t a problem
- Has tried to quit alcohol in the past
What can you do to help?
It is essential to be careful about how you approach someone you suspect to have a drinking problem. It$B!G(Bs a sensitive issue and needs to be addressed with sincerity.
The first step to helping them is indirectly. This largely includes cultivating a positive, healthy culture in your workplace:
- Prohibit the use of alcohol in the office
- Prohibit the giving of alcohol as gifts for birthdays, etc.
- Ensure most of the firm$B!G(Bs events (meetings, parties) are non-alcoholic
- Incorporate team activities such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, etc.
- If an employee has already received rehab treatment, ensure you have a proper back-to-work plan in place.
- Hold a seminar hosted by an addictions expert to do a talk on the signs that someone could have a problem with alcohol
Sometimes you$B!G(Bll need to get directly involved in helping an employee. How can you approach an employee about their drinking problem?
- Empathise: Demonstrate that you know alcohol issues are an illness and they can be treated
- Prepare for denial: The chances are they are in denial and might be defensive
- Make it private: In a secure, safe space away from others
- Be factual: Name times and dates where possible without being accusatory.
- Show the consequences: Demonstrate how their behaviour has affected their work
- Recommend: Suggest your employee makes an appointment with their GP and provide them with contact details for people who can help them, such as addiction counsellors or Sober Coaches
- Accommodate: Make time for them during working hours to go to any necessary appointments, support groups or therapies.
- Cover them financially: Offer to pay for therapy, counselling, etc.
If do you think one of your employees or colleagues might have a drinking problem, don$B!G(Bt ignore it! You could just provide the starting point they need for their new, sober lifestyle.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Bunmi Aboaba a Sobriety Companion and Coach and founder of the Sober Advantage. Bunmi is dedicated to helping professionals overcome drinking problems. Her combination of holistic therapies is used to prepare a bespoke plan designed to fit around busy schedules. Bunmi helps people battling a variety of addictions to get control of their lives and beat their addiction – for good. Bunmi uses a variety of techniques to help her clients, all of which she has used herself to help her gain her sobriety and remain sober for 10 years. See: www.thesoberadvantage.com and https://www.linkedin.com/in/bunmiaboaba/