I'm facing possible dismissal because I had a lot of drinks at an unofficial work gathering (poker after hours in the cafeteria). I had a bit too much, and passed out, and the cleaning crew reported me to the owners. My coworkers left me in the "recovery position" overnight.

I don't normally drink excessively in public, but I'm considering getting professional counseling to help bring it down a notch. I won't do AA since it's just a bunch of religious nonsense, so I have to save up for professional counseling services (about $150.00 per hour out here). My company has a reimbursement process for counseling services, but it's only $300.00 per year.

Should I disclose my drinking habits as a "disability" to human resources, since I'm seeking professional health care services related to it? Would proof of seeking professional help me to not be fired?

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    I'm not sure if would count as a disability, but seeking professional help is definitely a good idea and I think would help people look favourably onto you. It certainly wouldn't harm your chances of keeping employed. Do you suspect you will be fired? Is this a one-off? – Tas May 30 '17 at 2:08
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    As a matter of fact, only alcoholism is a disability. To claim you have a disability you would have to declare yourself an alcoholic. This would have implications for how you would be expected to deal with your condition, and continuing to drink heavily as a matter of choice is probably not the expectation. – DJClayworth May 30 '17 at 23:43

The first question that needs addressing is whether you are just looking to avoid getting fired over this incident or whether you genuinely feel that you have a drinking problem.

If it's the former then don't go down that path, doing so would just be a dishonest attempt to weasel out of your current situation which is not only unethical (and disrespectful to those with genuine substance abuse problems) but would also likely become apparent to your employer that it's not genuine quite quickly and that could backfire massively! I think most companies would look more favorably on someone who made a genuine mistake and took responsibility for that mistake than someone who tried to make out it was a "disability" when it wasn't. As a general rule people who are alcoholics can't just "cut down a bit" (pretty much by definition) and have to stop drinking completely.

If this was just a one-time screw up with having a bit too much to drink and making a fool of yourself then you need to be honest about that with your employer - apologise and make it clear that it will never happen again. I'm not judging here, I'd imagine that most people who drink have had a moment like that. I know I have (albeit not in the work environment) and I only drink alcohol half a dozen times a year max!

On the other hand if you do feel that you have a genuine problem and this was just the incident that brought the problem to a head then I would say something like this:

I've realised that I have a problem with alcohol. I'm sorry for the impact this has had on the company and I'm seeking help to fix this and ensure that something like this doesn't happen again starting by doing x, y and z.

If possible make an appointment with a counselor or doctor (even if that appointment is after you'll be seeing your boss) and bring details of that appointment with you so you show you are taking steps to address the issue.

To be honest either way you're in a pretty crap situation and I hope you can work it out without too much damage to your work and life so good luck!

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