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“RESPEKT” for those who dare to talk about alcohol

Both employer and family were supportive when Sophia Pia Reinholt was overcoming her alcohol misuse - and that was crucial for the success of her rehabilitation. The Confederation of Danish Industry backs the RESPEKT campaign, which highlights how companies can support employees dealing with alcohol misuse.
The RESPEKT campaign draws attention to the municipal offers and thereby furthers DI’s cooperation with trade unions to handle alcohol-related issues, among other things, says Director of Occupational Health and Safety at the Confederation of Danish Industry, Anders Just Pedersen. Photo: Colourbox.

Publiceret: 26.01.2017
Af Lotte Malene Ruby mail

“My misuse just sneaked up on me. I was stressed because I had gone through a divorce, and there had been fighting over the children - and having a glass of red wine seemed like an easy way to relax. Over time, a glass became one, two or sometimes three bottles a day,” explains Sophia Pia Reinholdt, who is a process operator at the company DuPont, previously called Danisco.

She knew that she needed treatment, but she did not follow through until shortly before the summer holiday of 2010. A few of Sophia Pia Reinholdt’s family members discovered her increasing alcohol misuse, despite the fact that she had hidden it well - from both her family and her employer.

“But my aunt happened to work in the same company as me - and one day she and my cousin reached out. They said that it was time for me to get treatment and to explain the state of things to my manager,” says Sophia Pia Reinholdt.

Full support from the manager


It was understandably with great trepidation that she approached her manager, but the reaction was surprisingly positive.

“At first, he sat with his mouth agape because he had no idea that I had an alcohol misuse problem. After the conversation, however, I knew that I had his full support - and I’m deeply grateful for that today,” Sophia Pia Reinholdt explains.

Through her employer, she went through rehabilitation and has today overcome her alcohol misuse. And because Sophia Pia Reinholdt and her employer subsequently decided to be open about misuse problems, several colleagues have followed in her footsteps.

Haldor Topsøe has a misuse network


According to the Danish Health Authority, over half a million Danes have a harmful alcohol consumption, while it is estimated that 140,000 people have outright addictions.

The company Haldor Topsøe has taken the consequences of this, explains HR Director Pia Møller Appel.

“Statistically, a large company like ours always has instances of alcohol or substance misuse among employees. We would like to take care of these individuals and help them receive treatment if they want it - and we inform them of this, e.g. at introduction days for new employees,” she explains.

In 2009, Haldor Topsøe set up an employee misuse network, in which members have typically had first-hand experience with alcohol misuse and are also trained in spotting and helping people with misuse problems.

The colleagues in the network distribute flyers, for example, in the cafeteria in order to get in touch with other employees who need help.

“For most people, it’s easier to speak to a colleague who is familiar with alcohol abuse themselves than it is to speak to their manager. And that’s probably part of reason behind the success we’ve had with the network,” says Pia Møller Appel, who sits in the steering group for the misuse network herself and continuously takes part in evaluation of the initiative.

New campaign with focus on alcohol


Experience generally shows that the outcome is purely positive when workplaces help employees with substance misuse.

“There’s a greater chance of a successful course of treatment if it’s your employer and not the emergency room or a hospital, for example, that refers you,” says Peter Konow, director of the Danish organisation Alcohol & Society.

Employers therefore play a key role in the new alcohol campaign called RESPEKT, which Alcohol & Society has created together with the TrygFonden foundation.

“It’s important that the company’s management clearly supports employees who drink too much - it makes it easier to make the decision to do something about one’s alcohol problem. Danish employers - both small, medium and large companies - have the potential to actively contribute to getting more people into rehabilitation,” says Peter Konow.

DI supports RESPEKT


The Confederation of Danish Industry is pleased that the RESPEKT campaign helps to highlight an issue that many companies are familiar with but that can be difficult to broach in the individual company.

“We think that ‘Respekt’ is a really good initiative, first and foremost because alcoholism can lead to many personal crises and tragic fates, but also because companies often lose employees who are otherwise good at their jobs,” says Director of Occupational Health and Safety at DI, Anders Just Pedersen.

He notes that the RESPEKT campaign draws attention to the municipal offers and thereby furthers DI’s cooperation with trade unions to handle alcohol-related issues, among other things.

“In the companies, management, trade union representatives and other colleagues all play an important role in helping the employee in question to move forward. We know that it’s an issue that can be difficult to talk about, and that’s also why it’s necessary that we highlight it,” Anders Just Pedersen says.    

The RESPEKT campaign runs from 24 January until 6 March, 2017, and can be followed on the website hope.dk.

Get advice on alcohol policy
Call the Danish Health Authority’s alcohol hotline on 80 200 500.
Free, anonymous counselling for managers and HR employees about alcohol policy and employees with alcohol problems.
Open all weekdays 11 - 15

Test your alcohol consumption

Try the alcohol test for free and anonymously at www.hope.dk/alkoholtest (in Danish)
The test is used by doctors and rehabilitation centres around the world because it provides a nuanced image of both your alcohol consumption and drinking habits.

WHO has developed the test, which is also recommended by the Danish Health Authority.

Statistically, a large company like ours always has instances of alcohol or substance misuse among employees. We would like to take care of these individuals and help them receive treatment if they want it.
HR DIRECTOR PIA MØLLER APPEL, HALDOR TOPSØE
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PUBLISHED: 1/26/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 1/27/2017