Confront Partner’s Drinking?

 I’ve become concerned about one of my partners in our small firm. She often “works at home,” and sounds as if she has been drinking when I call. In any case, she has clearly been withdrawn since losing her sister about a year ago. The other partners and I feel as if we must confront her, especially since clients have begun asking questions, but we’re not sure whether alcohol is the problem.

This does sound like a potentially complicated situation, in that it may reflect a drinking problem, a problem with grief or depression, or possibly both. You can’t possibly expect to diagnose the precise nature of her problem (it may even take some time for a professional to do so). Nevertheless, you, the other partners, and perhaps one or more significant others may still be in a position to gently but firmly confront your colleague about the changes in her behavior and your reasons for concern. The result could be that you will expect her to get professional evaluation and treatment — in this case, provided by someone experienced in addressing both mood and alcohol/drug problems. If you like, you, as a concerned party, may come to LCL to meet with one of our clinicians and plan a course of action. We can also provide referrals to the right kinds of mental health/substance abuse professionals, and provide follow-up support.

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