“I was unfortunate enough to witness both sides of the alcohol policy as a friend and colleague of mine some years ago lost control of their alcohol use and sadly lost their job as a result.”

Pilot experience - Alcohol

What follows is an account sent to us by a Pilot who wanted to share their own experiences and how they dealt with the situation. They make no claims about their experience other than hoping it may be of interest and possible help to other pilots. We are tremendously grateful to them. 

‘XXX’s’ “Part A” sets out the companies Alcohol policy.  The limitations imposed are slightly more restrictive than others.  Interestingly though it emphasises the fact ‘XXX’ view problems with alcohol as a health rather than disciplinary problem when the pilot initiates an intervention to seek help.  In other cases it becomes a strict disciplinary issue.

 

I was unfortunate enough to witness both sides of the alcohol policy as a friend and colleague of mine some years ago lost control of their alcohol use and sadly lost their job as a result.  From my perspective it struck me that the individual had some external issues that they did a good job at putting a brave face on.  With the benefit of hindsight I still am not sure whether the alcohol use was a precursor or a result of these home life issues. 

The individual first sought help from the company.  This was triggered by a drink drive conviction which may have pushed them into seeking support rather than voluntarily doing so. However even so it was deemed a health and wellbeing issue by the company and after a short period away they were deemed to have been treated and well enough to return to work.  Again as an outsider everything seemed to return to normal and myself and other colleagues were not aware of a continuing problem.  In fact during social drinking occasions the individual would make a point of completely abstaining from alcohol.

Unfortunately during this entire period I understand they were suffering from a severe alcohol dependency and went to great lengths to hide it.  The situation unravelled when they seemingly turned up to work smelling of alcohol and the company had no choice but to dismiss them.  The lessons I took from this were how successfully and determinedly the individual hid a severe problem that they were perhaps unwilling to admit too and seek meaningful help about.  It taught me how hard it is to spot and how unwilling and difficult it is for people to admit problems and seek help.

 

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