Advising an alcoholic?

  Blackhat 09:29 28 Nov 2008

A member of my staff has an alcohol problem. It has been building up for a few years and has now reached the point where I need to dismiss him on grounds of being repeatedly under the influence during working hours. I have recently located his secret stash of vodka bottles on the premises and have gone through the motions of official warnings.

He will be leaving my company shortly but I wish I could advise him about his drinking. We have had many heated discussions but the message does not get through. He refuses to admit he has a problem!

I have talked to his mother, his girlfriend and his work colleagues but he lies to them about his drinking, he is showing physical signs of alcohol abuse, swollen hands, jaundice, slurred speech etc.

How can you advise an alcoholic to get help???

I have purchased a breath tester and have tested him each morning this week, he shows 3 times over the limit at 9am 5 days running and he still insists he is cutting down.

When he leaves my company I believe he will spiral down to oblivion as he won’t get another job in his condition, he won’t get benefit due to dismissal and he may well loose his accommodation. I cannot continue to employ him but doing so may lead to his destruction.

I have a moral dilemma!

  numskull 09:40 28 Nov 2008

The first thing your employee needs to do is admit that he has an alcohol problem and seek help. If he is not able or willing to do that then there is nothing else anyone can do. There are plenty of organisations offering help to people with alcohol or drug addictions but if the addict is not prepared to help himself then these organisations do not want to know. They will not even take referrals from worried parents, friends or employers.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 10:00 28 Nov 2008

If he is not listening by now you are wasting your time. If he has jaundice, swellings etc. then the downward spiral is well run. Unless he accepts that he has a problem no one can help him. Alcoholics are accomplished liars and they will drag you and all their friends down with them. If the threat of losing his job has not persuaded him, I would let him go on his way as you will be wasting your time. If you allow him to work, when you know he has a problem and if he injures a fellow worker then your backside will be sued from here to the afterlife. Forget it and move on.


  interzone55 10:20 28 Nov 2008

I've only had to deal with one alcoholic at work and it was quite an unusual situation.

As we were working for a large organisation we had benefits like company doctors etc, so I managed to persuade this chap to visit the doctor.

The doctor told him that if he doesn't stop drinking he'll die within months.

Now this chap was a very religious Roman Catholic, and he knew he'd not led a good life, so if he died he'd go straight to hell, not a place he wanted to visit any time soon. He also had no chance to make amends in the next few months, so he decided there & then to stop drinking.

That was 10 years ago, I still see him around every now & again and he's as clean as a whistle and working for some charity.

This probably won't help you with your problem, but it's a mildly interesting story...

  User-1229748 10:22 28 Nov 2008

i can understand your feelings but numskull and gandalf are 100% right,if the addict won't admit to having a problem there is nothing that can be've alrady done more than most gaffers would have done by keeping him in work for as long as you have.

  johndrew 10:27 28 Nov 2008

Alcoholics in common with drug users often `don`t have a problem` as they can`t see what they are doing wrong. As is said above, until the individual admits to having a problem there is nothing anyone can do to help them short of using force - I do not advise that approach.

The only suggestion I can make is for you to advise his family to speak to his GP - if for no other reason than to give fair warning - and see if it is possible for the doctor to get him in for a medical check that may have an effect.

I believe you have done all you can as an employer and concerned individual.

  newman35 10:39 28 Nov 2008

It is said that the alcoholic has to be allowed to get to the stage of waking up one morning in the gutter, homeless, and at 'rock bottom'.
Only after that realisation is there a possibility of climbing back up. Before that stage the lies and self-delusion will keep them going.
It's hard to allow a friend to get to that, but often the only way. I don't envy the choices for you.

  crosstrainer 10:50 28 Nov 2008

But as is posted here.. Only person to help is the Alcoholic him / herself.

If you can afford to be without your member of staff for a while.. Then support.

If not, and as hard as it sounds....

It's up to them.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 11:02 28 Nov 2008

You can't, as they won't listen.

I was in the same situation two years ago.

You have done all you can by talking to him his relatives and friends.

Dismissal is the only course you have left as you have a "duty of care" to the rest of your employees.
You will also have to reveal why he was dismissed if someone asks for references if he applies for a "safety critical job".

The person I dismissed appeared to get better as a result of the shock of losing his job or by being relieved of the job stress, not sure which.

  JanetO 11:27 28 Nov 2008

This is often termed the eternal triangle: You have the victim (the drinker), the pursecutor (usually the spouse who wants them to give up drinking), and the rescuer (their saviour). And the (Games People Play) game goes round and round until it becomes never-ending. Once you realise the rules of the 'game' it gives one the option of leaving the triangle.

  crosstrainer 13:27 28 Nov 2008

And at the end of the day?

The person.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

Elsewhere on IDG sites

Sea of Thieves Review

Dell Canvas review: the cheap Wacom Cintiq alternative

How to use iMovie for Mac, tips and more

Comment filmer l’écran d’un iPhone ?