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Alcohol & Workplace Productivity: Are Your Employees Secretly Struggling?

There are many stereotypes associated with alcohol addiction, not the least of which concerns employment. It is often assumed that people struggling with alcohol consumption will display obvious signs of it, and not be able to keep a full time job. This can be misleading. Problem drinking takes many forms, and affects many more employees than you might realize. If you’re an employer, it is important to understand the hidden impacts of alcohol on workplace productivity. The size of the problem may surprise you. There may also be something you can do about it.

A Hidden Epidemic

Alcohol and Workplace Productivity
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If you think alcohol abuse isn’t affecting your workplace, the statistics may tell a different story. In recent surveys, 6.2 percent of American adults over the age of 18 had an alcohol addiction, and almost 27 percent had been binge drinking in the last month. That’s over a quarter of the eligible US workforce reporting some kind of problem drinking. Even more striking is that, of those with Alcohol Use Disorder, only 6.7 percent received treatment within the past year. This means roughly 14 million people are going without help, many of them while holding down a full time job.

And this is only what’s being reported. Many people aren’t aware how severe their drinking has become, or haven’t crossed a threshold where they feel they have a problem. Alcohol is so common in our culture that its effects tend to blend into the background. Beneath the surface, however, it is having a huge impact. Half the adults in the US have some family history of alcohol abuse, and alcohol remains the third most common cause of preventable death in the country.

With numbers like this, the odds are that alcohol is affecting your employees’ lives. This is enough cause for concern on its own, but could alcohol abuse also be affecting your business?

Workplace Productivity & Alcohol Abuse

Excessive alcohol use doesn’t just hurt the people struggling with it. The CDC estimates that problem drinking cost the US economy almost a quarter trillion dollars in 2010. This included healthcare costs, law enforcement, and motor vehicle accidents. But with all these significant issues, lost workplace productivity was by far the biggest problem. A full 72 percent of the effects of alcohol on the economy were from reduced job performance.

It isn’t just people struggling with chronic Alcohol Use Disorder who show impairment at work, either. A recent Norwegian study found that workers who binge drink regularly are almost four times as likely to show a drop in productivity. And then there are workers who might be caring for family members with AUD, or living with the long-term health consequences of alcohol addiction. The CDC itself states that the impact of alcohol on the economy is probably much higher than we can measure. One thing is for sure: not only does alcohol misuse affect many people’s lives, it affects workplace productivity—and probably your business—every day.

What Can Employers Do to Help?

Alcohol and Workplace Productivity
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With such a large, hidden issue in the American workforce, it can be hard to know where to start. People have a right to privacy, and it isn’t always easy to pinpoint where alcohol addiction is impacting employees’ work. On top of this, many of the traditional solutions are disruptive, requiring people to take time off from their jobs and lives. It’s understandable why someone who still functions well from day-to-day might reject these options, which could explain why so few people are getting help.

Fortunately, there are new solutions. Ria Health’s innovative telemedicine program now allows people to work on their harmful drinking patterns from home. Using a smartphone app, members can video chat with doctors and coaches, and access prescription medication to reduce alcohol cravings. The whole process can happen without requiring anyone to put their life on hold. This lets your workers continue to keep personal commitments and maintain high productivity, while getting access to the care they need. Best of all, employers can now offer Ria Health’s program as a benefit for employees. If you are concerned about the potential impacts of alcohol misuse on your workforce, you can now do something about it.

To learn more about what Ria’s program can do for your business, including our engagement-based pricing, get in contact with us today. Be part of the cutting edge in treating the effects of alcohol in the workplace. See how our program can help your employees—and your business—thrive.

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