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Dear Jido,

My boss has taken to drinking behind his closed office door. He begins as soon as he gets to work and continues throughout the day. His work output has decreased and I don't have much to do. He is pretty incoherent by three, and I cover for him.
I leave at five and I have no idea what happens when he gets home – he is married and has a few children. This has been going on for six months. I don't know whether I should talk to his wife, his managing partner, or just to him?
I really don't want to go back to the Administrative Pool either. Please advise…

Signed, A Concerned Employee

Dear Concerned,

Alcoholism has become a growing problem in our community – not only for men, but also for women and teenage boys and girls. When some people hear the word “alcoholic,” they think of your typical drunk lying in the street. Not always. There is a phenomenon called a “high functioning alcoholic.” These people often seem to have everything going for them. They drink too much, but they excel at work and have good relationships with family and friends. Their success often works against them, making them think they have their drinking under control based upon the perceived normalcy around them. Eventually, whether it takes months or years, alcoholism catches up with them. Unfortunately, your boss seems to fit the profile.

The fact that he is your boss, not your husband, brother, or friend, can make it hard to approach him about having a “problem” with alcohol. But, as you realize, it is impossible to continue drinking heavily for a long period of time without suffering the physical and emotional consequences that eventually result.

You might actually be doing him a disservice by “covering up” for him. By doing so, you are inadvertently encouraging and enabling him to continue drinking, by helping him to avoid its negative consequences. Therefore, you should first discuss with him how concerned you are for his welfare. When he tells you it is none of your business, insist that it is. Do some homework and read to him the effects it can have on his heart, his liver, his family, and his job. When he insists that he knows but there is nothing he CAN do about it, then refer him to SBH, AA, the National Center for Disease Control, or his rabbi.

If he says there is nothing he WANTS to do about it, then, in my humble opinion, you have the obligation to save his life and speak to his boss, his wife, or his rabbi.

If he demotes you back to the Administrative Pool, well then, that is a small price to pay for saving a life.

Don’t give up – you are doing the right thing.