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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
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Updated on July 31, 2023
5 min read

What are the Risks of Getting Drunk Before Work?

Is it Normal to Drink Before Work?

Most people don’t consider it normal to drink alcohol before work. Morning drinking can indicate alcohol abuse, especially if you're working the first shift.

Some people may drink in the morning to soothe withdrawal symptoms the night after heavy drinking. Drinking alcohol first thing in the morning is also referred to as the "hair of the dog."

Others may use alcohol to cope with stress or anxiety at work. Despite making you feel confident or relaxed, drinking alcohol at work can only negatively affect your productivity and health.


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Effects & Dangers of Drinking Alcohol Before Work

Drinking alcohol before work has various effects and poses dangers, such as:

  • Developing or already having a physical and/or psychological dependence on alcohol
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not consuming alcohol
  • Increases the likelihood of drinking throughout the day and ultimately having too much to drink
  • Higher risk of accidents, especially for those operating machinery or performing work that requires extreme focus and control
  • Increases the likelihood of liver disease, dementia, and other physical complications linked to drinking
  • High risk of developing alcohol use disorder, if it isn’t already present
  • Increases the risk of DUI and other dangers of inebriation 

People who consume an alcoholic drink before work often drink alone. Doing this indicates that they drink to alter their physical condition and not for social reasons.

Does Alcohol Make You Work Better?

Some say drinking alcohol makes them more creative or relaxed at work. But in reality, alcohol often doesn’t make you work better or improve productivity.

It can negatively influence your productivity and reputation at work. This can lead to struggles with fulfilling responsibilities and cause issues with your co-workers and supervisors.

Talk to your employer if your job requires socializing in settings where you usually drink. It's important to be clear with your boss on whether or not this is acceptable.


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Can You Get Fired for Drinking on the Job?

Yes, you can get fired for drinking on the job or for actions influenced by alcohol. However, laws on drinking habits and termination affect how your employer responds to a drinking problem.

For example, if someone is habitually late for work, they can be terminated. The cause of their lateness is not an issue⁠, regardless of whether it's related to drinking. However, these laws are getting slightly confusing with the increase in work-from-home jobs.

It's illegal to fire someone for being an alcoholic because alcohol use disorder (AUD), or alcoholism, is a disease. Similar to other conditions and disabilities, employers cannot fire you for AUD.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities, including AUD. But it applies differently to alcohol addiction and illegal drug use.

Under the ADA, employers can require people with AUD to meet the same performance and behavioral standards as other employees. However, they must also grant requests to take leave to enter a rehab program.

Despite this, employers can still fire employees for drinking on the job if it follows company policies. Employment laws protecting those with AUD don't protect you when you consume alcohol at work.


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Is Drinking in the Morning a Sign of Alcoholism?

If you regularly drink alcohol in the morning, you might have a problem with alcohol. Especially if you do it on or before a workday.

This isn't the same as someone who chooses to have a mimosa, glass of wine, or beer with brunch. Third-shift workers who end their shift early in the morning with a drink might not be heavy drinkers or alcoholics either.

However, if you're drinking in the morning to self-medicate symptoms of anxiety or stress, it's a sign of alcoholism. Many alcoholics wake up, begin drinking as soon as possible, and can't stop.

What is Considered a “Normal Drinking Habit?”

“Normal” drinking varies from person to person.

The CDC states the following:2

  • Moderate drinking is one drink per day for women and two for men.
  • Heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week for men and 8 or more per week for women.

Any consumption of alcohol is abnormal for people who are: 

  • Under the age of 21
  • Pregnant or trying to become pregnant
  • Planning to drive or operate machinery
  • Participating in sports or activities that require alertness, coordination, or skill
  • Taking OTC or prescription medications that do not mix well with alcohol
  • Inflicted by certain medical conditions
  • Are in recovery from alcohol use or unable to control their consumption

Remember that what might be normal for one person isn’t the same for another. One drink might be safe for some people, but it might be too much for others. 

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

Here are the different treatment options for alcohol abuse and addiction and what they provide:

  • Inpatient treatment: Round-the-clock treatment that lets you focus on recovery and sober living
  • Intensive outpatient care: Access to individual and group therapy for several hours each day without removing you from your everyday life
  • Outpatient treatment: Access to therapy approximately once a week
  • 12-step programs: Camaraderie and support in a group setting with other recovering alcoholics
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): Pharmaceutical support for treating addiction


Drinking alcohol in the morning before work isn't considered normal. This is also a sign of alcohol use disorder and should be treated accordingly. 

There are employment laws protecting people with disabilities, including alcoholism. However, these laws cannot prevent employers from disciplining employees if they drink on the job. A form of disciplinary action can include job termination.

If you suspect you or a loved one has a drinking problem, seek professional help. AUD can lead to long-term health consequences, so seeking treatment is important to overcome the condition.

Updated on July 31, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on July 31, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. “The ADA, Addiction and Recovery.” ADA National Network. 
  2. “What Is Excessive Alcohol Use?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. “Drinking Levels Defined.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 2017.
  4. “Rethinking Drinking Homepage.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 2019. 
  5. Nowinski, J. “Drinking at Work: Not a Healthy Trend.” Harvard Health Blog, 2012.
  6. Rehm, J. "The risks associated with alcohol use and alcoholism." Alcohol Res Health, 2011.
  7. "Laws and Regulations." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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