The Cost to Businesses When Workers Have a Drinking Problem

The cost to businesses when workers have a drinking problem extends far beyond their being under the influence while in the workplace. Off-hours, off-site binge or heavy social drinking impact the workplace through absenteeism, late arrivals, early departures, the body / brain still trying to process the alcohol thus not functioning fully, impacts on fellow employee work products and deadlines, and bottom-line health care costs associated with the physical ailments caused by excessive drinking. It’s significant!

I was researching the costs of untreated alcoholism and came across an excellent website, Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems, a project launched in 2002 as an initiative of the Center for Health Services Research and Policy within the Department of Health Policy The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Quoting one of the Q & As on their site:

Why does it cost companies money when their workers are in trouble with alcohol?

Employees don’t need to be addicted to alcohol to cost companies money. Light and moderate drinkers cause 60 percent of alcohol-related incidents of absenteeism, tardiness and poor quality of work, while dependent drinkers cause 40 percent. The primary business costs of problem drinking are from the treatment of alcohol-related injuries and health conditions, lost time from work and reduced productivity. For example, employees are nearly two times more likely to call in sick the day after drinking heavily than on other days. These costs could be decreased if substance abuse treatment, which is highly cost-effective, were more available.

Check their page, “Alcohol Problems Increase Business Costs,” to better understand the nature of these costs, and check out their “Alcohol Cost Calculator for Businesses” to find out how much problem drinking costs your business.

Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author | Speaker | Consultant | Founder at
Lisa is the author of hundreds of articles and 11 books, including "If You Loved Me, You'd Stop!," "Addiction Recovery: What Helps, What Doesn't," and "Secondhand Drinking: the Phenomenon That Affects Millions." She is a national keynote speaker with over 25 years speaking experience, consultant, and founder of She has spent more than 14 years studying 21st century brain research in order to write, speak, and consult on substance use disorders prevention, intervention and treatment; mental disorders; addiction (aka substance use disorders) as a brain disease; adolescent addiction treatment vs adult addiction treatment; effective treatment for co-occurring disorders (having both a substance use and mental disorder); secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family; and related subjects. In 2015, she founded SHD Prevention, providing training and consulting to companies, public agencies, unions, nonprofits and other entities to address the workplace impacts of employee secondhand drinking and alcohol misuse.

Leave a reply