Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues in High Functioning Alcoholism and the Workplace

As someone in recovery from high functioning alcoholism, I can attest to the unique challenges that individuals in this situation face, especially in the workplace. High functioning alcoholism often masks deeper mental health issues, and addressing these underlying problems is essential for lasting recovery. By focusing on the co-occurring mental health issues, we can treat addiction as a symptom rather than a disease, and ultimately promote healthier work environments.

High functioning alcoholics are often able to maintain their professional and personal lives despite their addiction, which can make it difficult for others to recognize their struggle. In many cases, these individuals use alcohol as a coping mechanism for underlying mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. The workplace can exacerbate these issues, with stress, pressure, and long hours potentially contributing to the development or worsening of mental health problems.

Addressing co-occurring mental health issues is a critical step in overcoming high functioning alcoholism. This process begins with recognizing and acknowledging the underlying problems, which can involve seeking professional help from therapists or counsellors. In South Africa, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) (1) is a valuable resource for those looking for support and guidance.

Employers also have a role to play in supporting employees with high functioning alcoholism and co-occurring mental health issues. By promoting a culture of understanding and empathy, employers can create an environment where employees feel comfortable seeking help. Implementing mental health awareness initiatives, offering flexible working arrangements, and providing access to counselling services are just some of the ways employers can support their workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. How can I identify high functioning alcoholism in a colleague or employee?
    Signs of high functioning alcoholism may be subtle and can include frequent hangovers, alcohol-related absences, or declining work performance. However, it’s important to remember that only a qualified professional can diagnose alcoholism or any co-occurring mental health issues.
  2. What resources are available in South Africa for individuals struggling with high functioning alcoholism and mental health issues?
    Organizations like the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) offer support and resources, including helplines, counselling services, and educational materials.
  3. How can I approach a colleague or employee about their high functioning alcoholism?
    It’s important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. Express your concerns in a non-confrontational manner, offer support, and encourage them to seek professional help.
  4. How can I support my own mental health in the workplace?
    Prioritize self-care by setting boundaries, managing stress, and seeking help when needed. It’s important to maintain open communication with your employer and colleagues about your mental health needs.
  5. What can employers do to support employees with high functioning alcoholism and co-occurring mental health issues?
    Employers can promote mental health awareness, offer flexible working arrangements, and provide access to counselling services. Creating a supportive and understanding work environment is essential.