The scariest part about alcohol abuse and alcoholism on the job is that it is probably more prevalent than you might think. Each day we place our lives and our livelihoods in the care of others when we trust that they will not drive, operate machinery or otherwise endanger us by drinking while on the job. Every year there are scores of deaths and billions of dollars lost as a result of this insidious problem, and in a great many cases the victims were not the ones who were drinking. Education, prevention measures and effective treatment options should be a critical part of health care offered by the workplace in order to mitigate and prevent these serious risks.

The BILYEU group estimates that as much as 47% of industrial injuries and 40% of industrial fatalities can be attributed to alcohol use. This is a frightening statistic considering the high number of accidents and injuries that occur each year, many of which involve heavy and dangerous equipment like compactors, shredders, grinders and heavy duty vehicles. Because these numbers are so high it's easy to see that prevention of workplace alcohol consumption is everyone's problem – not just the offender.

What most people don’t consider is the significant economic fallout caused by alcohol abuse in the workplace. This occurs as a result of lost time on the job, poor performance, the cost of injuries and accidents, the cost of increased insurance premiums, lost productivity, legal fees, and many other economic consequences. According to the US Department of Labor, "In 1990, problems resulting from the use of alcohol and other drugs cost American businesses an estimated $81.6 billion in lost productivity due to premature death (37 billion) and illness (44 billion); 86% of these combined costs were attributed to drinking." Chances are that these figures are minimal as a result of underreporting and omissions.

Fortunately, many employers and government agencies have recognized the value of programs for education, prevention and treatment of alcohol related issues. This includes the 1988 Drug Free Workplace Act, which sought to enforce and regulate the administration of drug and alcohol prevention programs in federal workplaces. However, the program and others like it were soon after adopted by private companies and organizations and have even been utilized by small businesses. Many people feel that the social support and networking environment of the workplace can be a valuable place to put education and prevention measures in place because there is significant motivation when peers are connected and affected by each other's decisions and actions on a daily basis. Additionally, it's more likely that in this type of environment a problem worker would be identified and dealt with accordingly.

People who consume alcohol on the job are often sufferers of alcoholism. If this is happening to you or someone you love, you need to reach out for help right now. There are programs in place and insurance and public health systems that you can take advantage of to fund treatment. Your life – and the life of those around you – could depend on it.

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If you've struggled with an alcohol or drug problem but can't seem to stop using, click here to learn about Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms – the number one risk to your recovery:

Author's Bio: 

Rachel has led a diverse writing career including journalism, marketing and internet-related writing and editing positions. A specialist in the fields of addiciton and alcoholism, Rachel is also an extremely adept financial writer.