Modern Etiquette: When a colleague is abusing alcohol

Mon May 13, 2013 5:04am EDT
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By Mary M. Mitchell

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The lovely dinner meeting with my colleague turned out to be a bad dream. Sure, we had wine with the meal. I loved every moment, morsel, and drop of it.

Yet I was poorly prepared when she not only had wine, but slugged down cognac afterward, and commented that she had preceded our meeting with "a couple of scotches."

I ended up taking her car keys and checking her into the hotel that housed the restaurant where we dined. It all seemed like a dramatic hassle - and then I realized it wasn't over. I had to face this woman again. And what would I say when I did?

It can be a painful experience to watch an associate or friend behave badly after having one too many at a business function or the local watering hole.

So I turned to Todd Whitmer, senior executive officer of the Caron Foundation, a nationally recognized U.S. non-profit addiction treatment center, for advice on how to help my colleague avoid alcohol-related career suicide - or worse.

Talk About How Their Actions Made You Feel

Work is one of the last places a drinking problem will surface, Whitmer says.

But friends and colleagues are likely to know someone is having a problem with alcohol before the boss does, and can help steer him or her away from danger.   Continued...

Two shots of liquor are seen at a bar in Prague September 12, 2012. REUTERS/David W Cerny