Alcohol & Substance Misuse

Alcohol and substance misuse can have a damaging effect on a business, for example, on non-attendance, productivity, morale and reputation.

If alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs are causing difficulties in your employees' performance, it can become a problem to your company. 

Alcohol misuse means drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week for both male and females. For more information on alcohol misuse, visit the NHS guidance on this here.


Misuse of drugs can mean a number of things:

Taking a drug that has been prescribed to you but taking it in a manner or dose that is higher than what has been prescribed

Taking someone else’s prescription, even if for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain

Taking a medication or illegal substances to feel high


Alcohol misuse is a large cause of early death and illness for individuals; After smoking, it is the largest risk factor for cancer and the biggest cause of liver disease. The impact alcohol and substance abuse has on a business is huge, below are some hard facts on the subject.


  • In the UK, around 1.4 million people are dependent on alcohol
  • 10 million in the UK are drinking
  • 70% of substance abusers are in full time employment
  • 7% of adult drug users are employed
  • 40% of industrial accidents are linked to substance abuse
  • 15% of workers are occasionally drunk at work
  • 60% of all poor job performances are linked to substance abuse
  • 2016 testing data shows highest workforce drug positivity in 12 years, driven by illicit drugs
  • 9 out of 10 drug abusers work at small or medium businesses
  • 3 million workers will go into work under the influence each year

Employees misusing alcohol and drugs can have consequences on your company’s performance. This can include:

  • Tiredness on the job
  • Performance quality reduced
  • Poor decision-making
  • Lower morale of co-workers
  • Safety concerns
  • Higher turnover of employees
  • Training of new employees
  • Use three times as many sick days
  • More likely to injure themselves or someone else at work
  • Substance abuse costs £100 billion to businesses – 10% of annual payroll
  • Lost productivity due to alcohol in the UK costs £7.3 billion
  • 14 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to alcohol and drug-related issues


What you can do to support Alcohol and Substance Misuse 


  • Promote the use of a health app such as Best-You to track the alcohol they drink and set reminders for drink-free days 
  • Promote the use of the FREE healthy lifestyles service – Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire, which offers free one-to-one coaching for activity, healthy eating, smoking and cutting down on alcohol
  • Promote the One You Drinks Free Days app
  • Display posters from trustworthy sources (e.g. Drinkaware) at work – see resource section below

Best-You is a FREE online platform and app that you and your staff can use as your own personal platform to communicate, create goals and track your progress.

Create a private Group and invite employees to discuss healthy lifestyles at work – employees who sign up with HLS Gloucestershire can create a group with their coach to discuss their challenges around alcohol and receive support.

Employees can create goals for alcohol, activity, healthy eating and smoking. Users can track their progress against their goal each day and Best-You will give motivational feedback. 

Best-You is full of helpful guidance for alcohol, activity, healthy eating and smoking.

To support alcohol and substance misuse at work you could encourage/provide:

  • Display resources from trustworthy sources (e.g. Drinkaware) at work
  • Increase knowledge of lower unit alcohols
  • Encourage open and honest conversations
  • Have a Champion within the company
  • Using a health app such as Best-You to monitor your active minutes
  • Use the FREE healthy lifestyles service, Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire, which offers free one-to-one coaching for alcohol, healthy eating, smoking and getting more active
  • Displaying posters from trustworthy sources around the workplace – see resource section below
  • Provide guidance and advice to employees about alcohol and substance misuse
  • Support National Awareness days or campaigns such as Dry January, Drink Free Days, Alcohol Awareness Week etc.

Useful Resources and Support for Employers

National Resources

There are lots of resources online that can support you with policies and guidance around Alcohol and Substance Misuse:

Health and Safety Executive - Guidance on Managing Drug and Alcohol Misuse at Work

You can support your employees by signposting them to a number of FREE online resources:

Best-You An online platform and app for self-care, set alcohol free days, set goals and track – see Best-You section below for more details.

Frank - Confident and honest advice about drugs

NHSAlcohol Misuse

Public Health England - Campaign resources One You

Local Services

Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire

Location: HLS Gloucestershire, Suite 1B,
First Floor Eastgate House
Eastgate Street
Gloucester GL1 1PX

Phone: 0800 122 3788


HLS Gloucestershire is a FREE service offering low level support for alcohol. They offer one-to-one health coaches to support with cutting down on alcohol consumption, being a healthy weight, getting more active and stopping smoking.

Change Grow Live

CGL offer FREE specialist support for alcohol and drugs, providing information, support, advice and treatment options.