Alcoholism is a crippling disease. While many people drink to lower their inhibitions or alleviate stress, others use alcohol in more problematic ways, becoming dependent on it to function or get through the day. Unfortunately, drinking is widely accepted and found in most social settings, including parties, family gatherings and even work-related events. This often reinforces or even encourages harmful patterns of alcohol abuse, especially for those who already have trouble controlling their drinking.
Once abused, the negative effects of alcohol begin to outweigh any perceived benefits. Excessive drinking can cause serious long-term damage that impacts mood, thinking and behavior. It’s also detrimental to the body, harming the heart, liver, and digestive system. With time, these effects take a toll on your health and may cause problems at home or in the office. After all, it’s hard to do your job when you’re too sick, hungover or intoxicated.
If you’re a working professional, you might be worried about how alcohol can affect your job performance. Keep reading to learn what to do when your drinking gets in the way of your career and how you can repair the damage that’s been done.
Deteriorating Job Performance
Some of the most obvious effects of alcohol abuse will often be reflected in the workplace. You might have trouble concentrating, staying awake or focusing on your duties, all of which lowers your overall productivity. This can cause you to deliver poor-quality work and miss important deadlines, straining your relationships with your boss, co-workers or clients. To make up for it, you might have to put in more hours to keep up with your workload.
Excessive drinking can also impact your job performance by costing you too many personal or sick days. But if you come in hungover, you’ll just feel miserable and have trouble completing tasks or assignments on time. Furthermore, alcohol abuse affects your sleep quality, making it harder to get up in the morning and stick to a normal schedule. Because of this, you might show up late (or not at all) and fall behind on certain projects.
According to business analysts, drinking or drug use is one of the top 10 reasons people get fired from their jobs. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects alcoholics from being discriminated against in most cases, it doesn’t prohibit employers from holding them to the same standards as everyone else. Declining job performance, showing up drunk and causing problems at work are still grounds for termination, especially if treatment is refused.
Other side effects of alcohol abuse include poor physical health. Like any other drug, alcohol is hard on the body, and many people who overdo it are unable to come into work after a night of heavy drinking. That’s because alcohol interferes with restful sleep and severely dehydrates the body, causing classic hangover symptoms like weakness, fatigue, nausea, pain, sweating, dizziness and headaches. Chronic abuse leads to even more lasting health concerns, including anemia, digestive problems and liver damage.
Alcohol is also detrimental to your mental health. Heavy drinking can exacerbate existing issues and cause new ones to appear, such as depression, anxiety or emotional instability. In fact, nearly one-third of alcoholics have a co-occurring mental health disorder that further interferes with their ability to function. Unfortunately, many people also drink to alleviate the symptoms of mental illness, creating a harmful cycle that’s difficult to escape.
Due to these effects, people who are dealing with a serious drinking problem often have a hard time bringing their A-game to work or anywhere else, for that matter. In addition to impacting your health, mental wellness and job performance, alcohol abuse can also cause personal, financial and legal troubles. While some high-functioning addicts can hide their drinking for a short time, others stop caring about the consequences of their behavior and cause lasting damage in every facet of life.
Do I Have a Drinking Problem?
Enjoying the occasional drink or happy hour doesn’t mean you have a problem. But if you find yourself struggling to control your intake or lying about your habits, it might signal a deeper problem with alcohol. Some other signs that it’s time to seek help include:
- Personal, professional or financial problems due to your drinking
- Unable to stop or cut back despite the consequences
- Sneaking sips of alcohol at work
- Isolating from friends, family and co-workers to drink more
- Engaging in reckless behavior while drunk
- Lying about your drinking or hiding alcohol at home or in the office
- Increased tolerance (needing to drink more for the same effect)
- Getting drunk at inappropriate times
- Missing work or neglecting other responsibilities
- Physical symptoms of withdrawal
Because alcohol is so prevalent, it isn’t always easy to recognize when someone is struggling. And while there’s no exact formula to determine alcoholism, if others have expressed concern or questioned your drinking habits, it might be time to get help. Left untreated, alcohol abuse can progress into addiction or dependency and cause irreversible damage to your health, career and relationships.
How Do I Cut Back?
If you have a serious drinking problem, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stop or cut back on your own. Once you’re dependent on alcohol, the urge to drink takes precedence over everything else, and you may experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, tremors or seizures. Because of this, late-stage alcoholics typically need inpatient rehab, medically-managed detox and extensive social support to quit drinking without jeopardizing their health and wellness.
High-functioning alcoholics usually fall somewhere between “problem drinkers” and “completely dependent.” At this point, less supervised levels of care like outpatient treatment can provide enough support and guidance to facilitate the recovery process. In an outpatient program, you’ll learn new ways to cope with stress or trauma, explore your underlying reasons for drinking, and connect with others who know what you’re going through. You also develop the tools needed to stay sober and avoid relapse despite triggers, cravings and setbacks. When applied to your daily life, these skills can help you build a strong foundation for recovery and greatly improve your personal and professional outlook.
At Choice House, we offer an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for professionals in your situation. Requiring just 10 clinical hours a week, you’ll be able to get sober without disrupting your career. If you truly commit to the recovery process, you’ll notice a tremendous improvement in your job performance, productivity and professional relationships, feeling a renewed sense of purpose and engagement in everything you do. It might seem hopeless, but recovery is possible if you take the first step and reach out for help.
For dedicated professionals invested in their careers, it’s important to understand the effects of alcohol abuse on job performance. From damaging your reputation, causing unnecessary strain and limiting your own success, excessive drinking can jeopardize your life’s work. Getting help early on can help you make the necessary changes to get things back on track. Choice House’s IOP for Professionals is designed to do just that with minimal disruption to your daily life. To learn more about our flexible recovery solutions in Boulder, Colorado, contact or call us today at 303-578-4975.