18 Signs One of Your Employees May Be Having an Alcohol Problem

Updated on July 31, 2020

Individuals abuse alcohol more than any other drug in the country today. In fact, one of every 12 adults in the country struggles with an alcohol abuse disorder, and children under the age of 18 aren’t immune. What can a person do when they suspect a co-worker has a problem with alcohol? What signs should an employer be looking for when it comes to employees and alcohol abuse? The following are 20 signs every employer needs to watch for in the workplace. 

Concealed Alcohol

Imagine going to get a file from an employee’s desk and finding a half-full flask. Sadly, this problem is one some employers are familiar with. When an employee drinks on the job, it puts all employees at risk. Encourage the employee to contact Pacific Ridge drug and alcohol treatment center or make it a condition of retaining their employment. 

The Smell of Alcohol

Alcohol comes with a distinct aroma. If you smell alcohol on an employee, it’s time to do further investigation. It might be they went out with a client for lunch and the client spilled their drink. However, it might also mean the employee is drinking on the job. 

Excessive Mint or Mouthwash Use

People often pop a mint in their mouth or use mouthwash after eating. If the use of these products becomes obsessive, however, it’s time to wonder why. It might be a sign the person is drinking on the job and trying to mask the smell.

Bloodshot Eyes

Allergies or a late night could lead to bloodshot eyes. However, this could also be a sign a person is drinking a great deal or is hungover from the night before. See if the eyes remain bloodshot or if the person is taking allergy medicine. If not, they may have a drinking problem. 

Falling Asleep on the Job

A person cannot fall asleep on the job and get their work done. Additionally, sleeping while at work can lead to other employees being put in dangerous situations. Speak to the employee to learn the underlying cause and address it accordingly. 

Hangover Symptoms

Men and women could suffer from a headache at any time. When these headaches occur more frequently and are accompanied by irritability and a sensitivity to light or loud noises, it may be the problem is the result of a hangover. 

Unsteady Gait

People who have been drinking often find it difficult to walk in a straight line. They may trip over their own feet or run into things. Look for this when you suspect a person has an alcohol problem. 


A person who drank too much the night before may have a hard time arriving at work in a timely manner. If this happens frequently, alcohol abuse may be the problem. 

Frequent Absences

If the employee can’t make it to work on time, they may decide to call out instead. Frequent absences from work might suggest the person has an alcohol problem. It’s time to obtain more information to learn the underlying cause. 

Aggression or Belligerence

A person who is abusing alcohol often becomes aggressive or belligerent over something minor. This leads to a workplace that does not feel safe. Address this issue immediately before it escalates. 

Mood/Behavior Changes

An individual who has always been pleasant and friendly might become nasty and withdrawn with alcohol use. While this is only one of many causes for a change in the person’s mood or behavior, it is one that should be investigated. 

Strained Interactions

Strained interactions may be the result of numerous things. If easily identifiable causes have been ruled out, it’s time to look at alcohol abuse as the reason. Employees want a pleasant workplace so any problems need to be addressed immediately. 

Problems Concentrating

Alcohol affects the brain in negative ways. A person who is abusing alcohol might find it difficult to concentrate. Pay attention to their behavior and try to identify patterns to learn the cause of this difficulty. 


People who abuse alcohol often miss work soon after they are paid. They use the funds to support their addiction. When the money runs low, they return to work to make more. 

Missing While at Work

When an employee disappears while at work, they may be hiding somewhere to consume alcohol. Try to find them and see what they are up to. Ask others if they know where they went so the problem can be discovered and rectified. 


Individuals abusing alcohol often avoid contact with their co-workers or supervisors. They go out of their way to avoid interactions. This may lead to issues in other areas, as they aren’t informed about their duties or workplace changes. 

Workplace Deficiencies and Excuses

A person struggling with alcohol addiction often falls behind at work. However, they refuse to accept the blame for doing so. They come up with excuses to explain the deficiencies. 

Time Issues

Alcohol abusers frequently miss deadlines or require additional time to complete basic tasks. This often leads to disruptions in the workplace, as others must wait for this individual to complete their work. 

Any of these signs alone could signal a problem. Not all issues are related to alcohol abuse. However, when multiple signs are seen, it’s time to learn whether the employee has an issue so it can be addressed. The sooner this is done, the sooner the workplace can return to normal, which is what everyone would like to see. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.