Business Costs of Employee Off-Hours Drinking | Secondhand Drinking

Business Costs of Employee Off-Hours Drinking | Secondhand Drinking

Absenteeism, lost productivity, safety risks, health care costs, employee wellness – these are but a few of the business costs of employee off-hours drinking and secondhand drinking (SHD), that latter of which directly affects some 90 million Americans. And by “drinking,” I’m referring to the kind of drinking that results in drinking behaviors, such as verbal, physical or emotional abuse of a loved one, driving while impaired, insisting on insane-making circular arguments, which in turn have negative impacts on others, including the fall-out to others who have to deal or work with a person exposed to repeated SHD. 

Leading family business expert Don Schwerzler, who has been studying and advising family business entrepreneurs for more than 40 years and is the founder of the Family Business Institute , headquartered in Atlanta, GA, interviewed me in 2010 about this idea (and substance abuse, addiction and secondhand drinking) and my book, Loved One In Treatment? Now What!for readers at FamilyBusiness

Questions and Answers That Delve Into What Becomes the Business Costs of Employee Off-Hours Drinking | Secondhand Drinking

To delve into this concept, I am sharing the questions posed by Don Schwerzler. You will find my answers in that interview, linked here. My answer to #15 below, summarizes some of the key concepts business leaders and their employees will want to know and understand in order to reduce the business costs of employee off-hours drinking and secondhand drinking.

1. How can this book help our family business clients and visitors to our website?
2. One of the confusing aspects for most people who are worried about someone’s drinking is trying to figure out how much is too much. Is there some sort of definition of “normal” drinking?
3. You talk in your book about addiction being a disease. What makes it a disease?
4. So are you saying that substance abuse is different than addiction?
5. If #4 describes substance (alcohol) abuse, then what makes substance abuse different than addiction?
6. What makes one person become an alcoholic or drug addict, while another person does not, even though that person drinks or uses too much?
7. Is treatment for substance abuse different than it is for addiction?
8. You talk about secondhand drinking/drugging (SHDD) in your book. What is it?
9. What have you discovered to be most helpful for those struggling in a relationship with an alcoholic or drug addict (i.e., suffering SHDD)?
10. Can a family member actually get someone to stop abusing drugs or alcohol or get them into a treatment program for drug addiction or alcoholism?
11. Are there any common reasons why people don’t act to intervene?
12. Why don’t more people know about this information?
13. Many of your other books are on women’s issues and other topics, what motivated you to start writing about substance abuse and addiction?
14. Can you talk about the effects of a parents substance abuse, drug addiction or alcoholism on children?

and summarizing key concepts covered in the interview is my answer to Question #15:
15. FBE Is there anything else you would like to add?

LF First of all, I really want to thank you for inviting me to do this interview and share this with your family business clients and visitors to your website. And, then I’d just like to make a quick list of the highlights:

• Substance abuse and substance dependence (addiction) cause brain changes, which in turn cause drinking/drugging behaviors. It is not the “person,” it is the brain changes caused by substance misuse.

• Substance abuse is not addiction. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease.

• A person abusing or addicted to a substance causes SHDD (secondhand drinking/drugging) for others, especially family members, friends, and co-workers.

• SHDD, in turn, can have health, emotional and work-related repercussions for others.

• A person with addiction cannot use any amount of the substance if they want to succeed in treatment and recovery and thereby stop the drinking/drugging behaviors and enjoy a healthy, joy-filled life.

• A person with a substance abuse problem may be able to change their use patterns to fall within moderate use. For some with a substance abuse problem, stopping all together is their solution. Stopping does not necessarily mean that person is drug addict/alcoholic, however.

• A person does not have to “hit bottom” before they seek or get help, and there is much family members, friends, and co-workers can do, provided it’s not blaming, shaming, argumentative, or deal-making in nature.

© 2014 Lisa Frederiksen

Note: In 2015, I formed SHD Prevention to provide workplace secondhand drinking prevention training and consulting services to companies and public agencies.


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.

4 Responses to Business Costs of Employee Off-Hours Drinking | Secondhand Drinking

  1. Paul says:

    Hi Lisa, i want to commend you on the great work you do for the recovery community with your excellent command of the science and the emotion of addiction. I dont know how i ended up on your site but this Business Costs article hooked me. Im wading into recovery coaching
    as an adjunct to my legal practice and your success and obvious dedication is a new source of inspiration for me.

    Thank you!

  2. A great post Lisa, and I think you are correct is saying that off-duty heavy drinking accounts for a large portion of absenteeism. Most people think that being ill or coming into work ill is the only reason. What does it take for someone abusing substances to become addicted?

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