Alcohol Recovery Stories: How My Alcoholism Impacted My Journey up the Corporate Ladder

The negative impacts of alcohol use disorder are far-ranging, from damaging physical health effects to relationship problems and accidents. Drinking can also have a big effect on the workplace. It can lead to missed days of work, decreased performance because of hangovers, inappropriate behaviors on the job, and many other issues. These stories of people who struggled with alcohol and felt the repercussions at work have hopeful, inspiring endings.

Alcohol use disorder, sometimes still referred to as alcoholism, occurs in more than six percent of American adults. Many of these people who struggle with drinking also work, and their careers are often negatively impacted by alcohol. Studies show that drinking, especially heavy drinking and binge drinking, increases absences from work, increases disciplinary issues and inappropriate behaviors at work, lowers morale in the workplace, and decreases productivity.

Problem drinking can significantly impact your ability to be successful at work or even to keep a job. But there is hope. These are stories of people now in recovery and rebuilding their lives. Their drinking may have damaged their career prospects, but they are fighting back and getting sober. And, their futures now look brighter.

Andrea’s Story – Hitting Rock Bottom at a Work Dinner


A few years after college, after going through a few dead-end jobs, I finally landed a dream job. I was living in the city and working for a big marketing company. Early on, I started to feel overwhelmed by the stress of the job and the long hours. One night, I decided to treat myself to a martini to unwind. It worked; I felt so much more relaxed and fell asleep easily that night.

The problem was that one treat turned into an every-night cocktail or glass of wine. By the end of the year, I was having several drinks most nights of the week. I mostly drank alone at home and was able to manage my drinking when out with friends or at dinners for work.

Then one night, I had to go out for dinner with my boss and some new clients we were hoping to land for a contract. This was a huge potential job, and my boss had already told me that I would be taking the lead. How this dinner went would determine if I was ready for a promotion.

The pressure got to me, and I gave in to my usual coping strategy. I had several glasses of wine while everyone else had one or two. My speech started getting slurred, I lost my train of thought, and I generally embarrassed myself and my company.

I lost my job the next day, and it felt like rock bottom. I knew I had let drinking get out of control but thought that, because I only ever drank alone, it meant I could manage the habit without letting others see. I was wrong of course, and I learned that and so much more in treatment over the next couple of months. I’m in recovery now, and although I set my career goals back a few years, I’m getting back into work with a new job doing marketing for a small hotel chain. Thanks to rehab, I feel like I’m stronger now and ready to work my way back up to a career I love.

Dave’s Story – I Couldn’t Keep Up Because of Drinking


Working as a lawyer in a big firm in New York was all I ever wanted to do since high school. I did great in college and law school, and right after graduation I got a junior position in a great law firm. My next goal was to work my way up the ladder and eventually become a partner.

Drinking came with the territory. We all went out after work a few times a week and would unwind and bond together at nearby bars. I had never been a big drinker, but I felt like I had to in order to fit in and be part of the team. It got to be too much for me, and putting in the long hours needed to advance in the firm got harder and harder. I couldn’t keep up and it showed.

There was no big rock-bottom moment, but I finally realized I was spinning my wheels at work. I tried to drink less but found I couldn’t. I took a leave from work and went to rehab. I learned how to use more positive, healthy strategies for coping with the stress of work. I took up running and yoga and continued with therapy even after leaving rehab and being in recovery.

Back at work, I felt refreshed and ready to start over again. Drinking was still a big part of the job, and at first it felt like I would get nowhere with the partners if I didn’t join in. But then I took a big step. I started a running club and found out that a lot of other people at work felt like I did—that they were drinking too much. My new club was successful, and a couple partners have even joined in some of the runs. I’ve already been promoted once since getting back, and I feel better than ever.

Tamara’s Story – My Boss Sent Me to Rehab


I worked at a pharmaceutical company for several years before my drinking really became a serious problem. I had long been a social drinker, but then I lost my husband unexpectedly. He had been my rock and biggest supporter. I felt lost without him and started to get overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.

At work, my performance didn’t suffer too much. I still kept up with my normal duties, but my ability to do more, to push my research and try new things, started to wane. My heart wasn’t in it, and part of the reason was that I had started drinking more. I just didn’t feel good, and I was doing the bare minimum to get by during the day.

When I should have realized that I needed help was when I started bringing alcohol to work. I would drink half a bottle of soda and add vodka. Keeping it at my desk or lab bench during the day, I could sip as needed to get through until 5:00.

Then one day, I guess I was more impaired than I realized. My hand slipped while working with some equipment and I cut myself. My boss figured out pretty quickly what had happened, and I was sure I would be let go. But he actually took a kind approach, knowing what I had been through with my husband, and gave me leave time as long as I committed to going to rehab.

Drinking kept me from being my best at work, but my boss gave me another chance. I couldn’t be more grateful, and after two months in rehab and ongoing therapy I went back to my job. My boss didn’t trust me immediately, but after a year he started giving me more responsibilities, and I am once again thriving at work.

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Getting Help for Alcohol Use Disorder


When drinking gets out of control it can impact all areas of your life, including work. Even if you realize you have a problem, stopping or reducing your alcohol intake alone is a huge challenge. There is hope, though, because rehab and treatment are effective if you commit to them.

A residential treatment facility for alcoholism can provide you with a safe place to get individualized and expert care. Here you can benefit from therapy, group support, medical care, health and wellness training, and alternative and holistic treatments to get you back on your feet.

Drinking can derail you from work goals, but it doesn’t have ruin your life. There is always time to ask for help, to make positive changes, and to enjoy recovery. Get treatment now, before your drinking becomes even more of a hindrance to your career and your overall well-being.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.