Saturday, December 8, 2018

#2 of 43 Signs and Symptoms for Reasonable Suspicion Training: Difficulty Maintaining Balance

Employees who are "drunk" may appear to have difficulty balancing. This symptom brings to mind the classic stumbling over a chair or when the drunk person stands up, they begin to keel over and everyone reaches to prevent their falling. Snatching the car keys comes next, hopefully. 

Don't be fooled however. Employees who are alcoholic at an office party on New Year's Eve usually will not have any trouble balancing even if they have been drinking all night. In fact, they may be able to drink more than most other employees at the party. Those employees who are losing their balance at a party following heavy drinking are mostly likely not alcoholic, but of course you can't make this diagnosis. The lack of imbalance after heavy drinking is of course explained by drug tolerance. 

The employee's ability to drink and not signs or symptoms can be an adaptive stage of the illness or proof that the body has grown accustomed to the presence of alcohol in the nervous system which no longer cause nerves cells to be anesthetized. 

This is a dangerous sign or symptom of reasonable suspicion, but its absence requires the supervisor to be on guard. You simply are not going to see all the classic signs and symptoms of intoxication that your read or near about. 

Take a look at this chart, and click on it to enlarge it for the following discussion.

Look how alcoholic employees perform. Do you see the pattern that is being described? Employees with severe alcoholism may also be your most valuable workers. May CEOs of companies are alcoholics just like there a many janitors who are also alcoholic. Tolerance is key to explaining why some employee do not lose their balance after drinking heavily.

Some employees you see at social functions my feel less inhibited about drinking heavily at say a holiday party, and over-drinking at such events will cause social drinkers, alcoholics, and alcohol abusers to over-drink to the point of intoxication. This is also a good reason to limit drinking at holiday parties or forego alcohol altogether because of the liability involved in alcohol-related incidents.

Since we are talking about DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training, be sure to write notes about what you see when an employee is losing their balance after drinking.  Record what, when, and the circumstances involved.

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