Work can be a pressure-cooker. There’s stress every day. And you may have started out using or drinking at work to calm your nerves. But now you can’t stop. Drinking or using at work can turn into a problem very quickly. You may feel you’ve lost control and don’t know what to do next. You do have options and you don’t have to face this alone.
Why am I drinking or using at work?
Life is hard, especially in the last few years of the pandemic with nonstop layoffs and inflation. It’s enough for anyone to want to escape from the stress of modern life. It’s hard to cope when the pressure is on. You may feel anxiety all the time and use alcohol or drugs as a fast-fix to a bigger problem. But ask yourself: What’s really going on here? How did it get to this point?
Depending on your job, you may be under lots of stress. Healthcare workers have to show up for their jobs even when they’re sick, teachers face strikes, and construction workers face extreme weather delays. Depending on the industry, in parts of entertainment or service and hospitality, for example, it might be ok to drink at work. But it’s knowing where the limit is and when to stop.
Drinking at work may have started out as an occasional thing, but now it’s become a compulsion. And it’s hard to stop a bad habit. But recovery will happen if you set your mind to it. That’s why you need to arm yourself with the right tools to heal yourself. You are not your addiction.
How can I stop drinking or using at work?
First things first – it’s best not to drink or use at work from the start. The sooner you stop drinking or using at work the better. And the longer you continue to drink or use at work the harder it will be to stop. Here are some things to think about to help you change your drinking or using:
- How does drinking or using while working affect your work, your coworkers, or those you support?
- Does it violate company rules? Can it lead to significant employment consequences like getting fired?
- Are you drinking more and more or in a way that is making it hard to stop?
- You might think using is enhancing your performance, but is it really, or does it make you do worse at your job?
- You might think people don’t notice, but are you sure? And if they do, do you think that your drinking or using could be impacting them?
- Let’s say you get fired because you were drinking or using. How will that affect your ability to find a job in the future?
Drinking or using at work won’t end well. We all do things we regret. But there is hope. Many people have recovered from their addictions and go on to live productive, healthy lives. You can do it too.
If drinking at work is a sign that you may be dealing with alcohol or substance abuse, it’s OK, and best to seek help and be proactive about your health. Seek resources that your company offers by contacting human resources, talking to a coworker who you trust, and researching information online or in your employee handbook or contract.
Significant drug use and drinking will affect your job performance. There are helpful tools to aid you with recovering from addiction.
- Find addiction support. Reach out to your local outpatient treatment center. Alcoholics Anonymous AA and other recovery groups offer meetings and also provide peer supporters who can help you.
- Consider calling 988 or a warmline. If you need immediate help, you can reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988 or using the chat box at 988lifeline.org. You can also text “MHA” to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. Warmlines provide a great place for non-crisis support.
- Self-reflect on what triggers your drinking or substance use. This tool can help you reflect on your experiences with addiction as well as see others’ too and help you figure out next steps. Figuring out your triggers and journaling can help you see patterns that may lead to drinking or using at work.
It’s very stressful to think about getting caught at work for using or drinking. You owe it to yourself to get the treatment you need. Remember, prevention will stop the behavior from becoming dangerous.