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Employers should help prevent misuse of alcohol by employees

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 07 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6590
  1. Don Shenker, director and founder, Alcohol Health Network, London SW1P 1JH, UK
  1. donshenker{at}

Pre-emptive action, such as screening questionnaires and advice for staff, would be a cost effective way for employers to reduce harm and increase productivity among workers who drink too much, writes Don Shenker

Organised drinking games used to be part and parcel of the armed forces’ operating procedure for team building among recruits, I was just recently reliably told. I was then hastily told that this no longer occurs. But the workplace culture of mixing alcohol with off duty relaxation and stress management remains as strong as ever in the UK’s private and public sectors.

Workplaces have long had a complex relationship with alcohol—on the one hand group drinking has a motivational function among colleagues, fostering greater team spirit and acting to reduce stress. However, on the flip side, those who cannot control their drinking and whose drinking impairs their productivity are in danger of being sacked. Who is ultimately responsible, the employer or the employee?

Heavy drinkers can …

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