Alcohol Awareness Month: Alcohol & the Workplace

The following is a press release from the Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs (MASAP). Each week during April, we will feature a different theme in recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month. The third theme is Alcohol & the Workplace.

Augusta, ME – Alcohol Abuse Is Costly For Employers. Alcohol and other drug abuse is widespread in our society. Therefore, no workplace is immune. Most binge and heavy alcohol users are employed full or part time. So just what are the implications? National research shows that:

  • 8.9% of full-time workers have drinking problems, the federal government estimates
  • An estimated 1.7% of employed adults worked while under the influence of alcohol, and 9.2% worked with a hangover in the past year
  • Alcohol costs American business an estimated $134 billion in productivity losses, mostly due to missed work
  • 20% of workers say they have been injured, have had to cover for a coworker, or needed to work harder because of other employees’ drinking

Alcohol and drug abuse result in substantial economic loss to Maine by reducing productivity. Total morbidity costs for 2005 for alcohol or drug use were estimated at $155.6 million. Always keep in mind that treatment should be done even at just the early signs of alcoholism use.

So what can an employer do? William McPeck, Director of Employee Health and Safety for Maine State Government states that all employers can do at least two critical things. First, all employers can have a policy that creates an alcohol and drug free workplace. Secondly, all employers can offer employees and managers awareness and training/education programs regarding alcohol and other drugs. Mr. McPeck urges Maine employers to “train all employees about substance abuse and addiction. Training should be comprehensive, covering signs and symptoms of abuse/addiction and effects on the workplace. Defining and discussing enabling is particularly important so that supervisors and managers learn appropriate boundaries and understand where their responsibilities end and the employee’s begins. Trainings should also cover available company and community prevention and treatment resources.”

Geoff Miller, Associate Director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse noted “Low productivity, workplace injuries, low employee morale, employee illnesses, and poor company image are some of the effects that substance abuse can have on the workplace and eventually affect the bottom line. Studies have shown that preventing problematic substance use can be an important component in helping reduce both the social and economic costs of substance abuse.”

The Maine Office of Substance Abuse launched Work Alert, a program that helps employers develop Drug Free Workplaces. Geoff recommends that employers take a look at this resource, “The website and materials can be crafted to meet the needs of employers big and small. Our intent is to offer a variety of resources and policy development tools for Maine workplaces”

WORK ALERT can be found at

The Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs, Inc. (MASAP) is a non-profit membership organization recognized state-wide and nationally as the voice of substance abuse and addictions in Maine. MASAP represents and advocates for the continuum of substance abuse and addictions services throughout Maine, from prevention through treatment to recovery. To learn more about MASAP please call 207-621-8118 or visit us at