Supporting individuals to reduce harmful drinking
An important part of any alcohol approach is providing support for staff who need help to reduce their drinking.
Here are some actions you can take to directly support your people.
Provide opportunities for skill development around responsible alcohol use, such as information sessions and resources.
Put up information in staff areas around alcohol-related harm and responsible drinking. Get alcohol resources from Wellplace, including the Drink Check pamphlet, which is a questionnaire to check drinking levels. Also available in hardcopy.
Initiate a workplace-wide alcohol-free competition and/or promote (and consider sponsoring) nationwide initiatives such as Dry July and don’t forget to celebrate successes!
Promote support services such as the Alcohol and Drug Helpline (0800 787 797 or free text 8681). Put up a poster advertising the helpline’s number.
Motivate and inspire staff by bringing in speakers who have successfully changed their drinking habits to share their stories and tips on how they did it.
Provide staff who are parents with information about the impact of alcohol on teenagers and children.
Offer support to staff such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), the alcohol and drug help line, or private counselling services.
Educate employees about the workplace factors that can lead to increased alcohol use and provide a clear process to report any concerns.
Send relevant personnel on a training/brief interventions course.
Including access to treatment is an important part of having a comprehensive approach to preventing and managing alcohol-related harm in the workplace.
Counselling and other treatment services enable people with alcohol-related problems to be rehabilitated. Employees should be able to access services voluntarily but undergoing treatment may also be a condition for employees who breach the policy (although they have the right to reject the offer).
Whether treatment is voluntary or compulsory, employees should be:
supported to find and get to counselling and treatment services
provided with appropriate paid or unpaid leave to access treatment
assured of confidentiality (typically no information other than their attendance may be passed on without the employee’s written permission).
Treatment and rehabilitation
Employee mental health and wellbeing programmes such as Ignite are available to help employees deal with personal problems that might impact their job performance, health and wellbeing.
Employees with more serious alcohol problems will be referred to a specialist treatment agency.
Brief interventions identify potential problems with alcohol use and intervene – in a low-key way – to motivate at-risk employees to change their drinking patterns.
Brief interventions aim to encourage employees to modify their alcohol use by:
providing information about low-risk drinking and the ways alcohol can affect an individual’s health and work performance
conducting brief assessments of an employee’s drinking and providing feedback about how this could be contributing to harm
providing alcohol-related self-help booklets.
Brief interventions are especially suitable for people with non-dependent (but risky) drinking patterns, or those with low levels of dependence and harm. They can usually be done by external consultants or suitably trained people in the workplace (such as occupational nurses).
Co-workers are well positioned to recognise and respond to a workmate with a drinking problem. Peer intervention programmes train employees to recognise issues among their colleagues and intervene in the right way (such as through brief interventions).
Psychosocial skills training
Suitable people in the workforce (such as occupational nurses) can be trained to use psychosocial interventions.
They use strategies such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behaviour therapy, social skills training, goal setting and teaching coping strategies.
There’s some evidence workplace psychosocial skills training can reduce alcohol consumption, personal problems associated with drinking, and the amount of alcohol-related absenteeism.
Who can help
Providing treatment services means building a relationship with relevant treatment providers. It’s important to identify local and culturally appropriate services that might be applicable for your workplace.
Publicly funded treatment
The Alcohol and Drug Helpline offers a free and confidential 24-hour service for anyone seeking help for themselves or others.
The helpline's service directory is a regionalised database of publicly funded addiction treatment and advice services. Privately funded organisations aren’t included.