I am your colleague who doesn’t drink


I may have been sober for double-digit years. Or I may have quit this morning, desperately hoping yesterday was my last drunk.

Drinking may be against my religion. Or it may have led me to a higher power through AA.

Whether I work with you in a boardroom or emergency room or situation room or courtroom, someday you may walk into a meeting room in a church or community center looking for help with your drinking and find me there. I will help you.

I may have been one of the 102,000 U.S. adults who seek treatment for alcoholism this year. That may have saved me from being one of the 3 million people around the world who die this year from alcohol-related causes.

I may have been sexually harassed, which happens much more often at a hard-drinking workplace. Or I may be one of the 11% of workers who have embarrassed themselves while drunk at an office party.

It may threaten my sobriety, serenity, and life when the office emphasizes drinking in work-related social activities. Or it may not faze me a bit. I may in fact enjoy being the designated driver.

My past drinking, abuse of expense accounts, and lost productivity may have cost the company dearly, part of the $249 billion annual cost of drinking in the United States. If I am in recovery, that experience may help save a coworker from going through the same costly pattern.

I may relapse, as 40%-60% of alcoholics and drug addicts do. Or I may be among the 13% of American adults who have never had a drink or a craving in my life.

I may have begun abusing drugs by taking Adderall as a “study drug” in college. Or I may have gotten hooked on crystal meth so I could hold down two blue-collar jobs in the recession. Or I may be struggling to free myself from the deadly undertow of opioid addiction.

When you casually lament a hangover or recount binge drinking it may unnerve me. Or I may get a kick out of it and tell you that you are an amateur.

When shouts ring out on a Thursday or Friday that everyone at our workplace needs to or has to, or really should drink alcohol, I may or may not speak up to tell you that alcohol landed me in the hospital or jail.

I may or may not speak up to tell you that I feel awkward and unsafe when peer pressure to do something that would endanger me is yelled at me in front of others while I work.

But whatever else I may or may not do, I don’t drink and I do work here. If those two facts need to be reconciled, we have some heavy lifting to do.

One thought on “I am your colleague who doesn’t drink

  1. Peer pressure in the work place is really hard. Keep up the good work with your sobriety. Your co workers may even surprise you if you talk to them about what you are going through.

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