So You’re An Alcoholic – Can You Be a Leader?


Hi Everyone!

So you have another corporate function or customer lunch coming up and you dread it – you know you will drink too much. You can’t avoid alcohol, because people will think you are a freak. You have to be one of the boys or one of the girls or you won’t be promoted. But can you really be a leader when you know in your heart you are an alcoholic? How will you cope?

If this sounds like you, or someone you know, this article is important for you.

If you are a leader without an alcohol affliction, this article also is important to you, because the balance of probabilities is that you have alcoholics, or sufferers of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in your team at work or on the sports arena.

I our article, we:

  • share the true story of an alcoholic leader and his battle with AUD (only the names are changed);
  • refer you to an article about how leaders can help alcoholics and why they should; and
  • offer some resources to help anyone impacted by AUD.

Andy’s Story – It Changed My Life!

Andy the Executive

Andy had climbed the corporate ladder. He was a senior executive in a public organization employing 40,000 people. His talents were visible to all who came in contact with him. But his personal battle was hidden.

Andy had been one of the boys, commencing his career in a sexist world dominated by men at the top. At corporate functions – especially those away from home – he was always one of the last to bed and most drunk. There were always others like him.

He loved customer lunches and the corporate hospitality box, too. Always a chance to try a new beer or wine. And always a time to be merry.

But this was killing him inside…. He knew he had a problem.

Andy’s Problem

The penny had dropped – Andy knew he was an alcoholic. One drink was too many for him, but 20 wasn’t enough.

He had convinced himself that he couldn’t be a leader if he didn’t drink:

  • Wouldn’t his peers think he was a freak?
  • How could he take a customer out to lunch and not buy a bottle of wine and have that cleansing ale afterwards?
  • And how would he be promoted if were seen to have a weakness?

Then his problem came to a head. His beautiful ever-supportive wife gave him an ultimatum – he needed to cease drinking or lose his family. Andy freaked – what would his choice be…family or career? In his heart, he knew that he chose his family. But in his head he thought his career was finished.

The Unexpected Happened

Andy went cold turkey and ceased drinking. His first customer lunch came up since he became a teetotaler. He didn’t know what he was going to say to explain why he wasn’t drinking. He discussed his fears with his wife and they agreed it was simply best that he said it was a lifestyle choice.

Andy had never felt this nervous in his whole career. Lunch came and went without a hitch – his customer said he was more than happy to drink soft drinks anyway.

Then the same happened at his second lunch. And third. And then things went further…two of his customers, on separate occasions, confided in Andy that they admired him; that they themselves felt they had drinking issues; and they were relieved to go to a lunch where there was no pressure to drink alcohol. Andy was stunned…and very encouraged!

Then the same happened at work. Some employees told him that they admired having a leader whom they could trust at corporate functions…who they could respect…and who set the right culture.

And Andy noticed something – when he used to be in that last cohort in the lift, drunk, at 4am in the morning, he had always thought that the group represented the majority. But when he went back to the hotel room now at a corporate function at 10pm, the cohort he was with formed a long queue outside the lift. Only now was he part of the majority!

Then Andy had an epiphany – he realized he was leading…Andy the alcoholic was a leader!

Andy Had a 100% Probability of Suffering AUD

Andy didn’t know this…and neither did we until we conducted our research. It turns out that alcoholism, or AUD, is a disease. It is 50% genetic and 50% environmental. Andy had been abused as a child and grown up in a family of alcoholics, so he had the genes and the environmental issues. No wonder he suffered AUD! Knowing this really helped him…he wasn’t a weak, bad person after all.

If you are interested in more research, please see our article Leadership Characteristics List – Dealing With Alcoholics.

You Are Not Alone – Famous, Successful People With AUD

Amazing People, Amazing Achievers

You are not alone…you are amazing!

My experience is that the vast majority of people coping with AUD are amazing – they are not the cliched homeless person on the street or drunks in a bar before lunchtime. I’ve had real experience with alcoholics and I can genuinely say that they typically are more can-do than most…and much more compassionate.

Be proud to know you are a silent person in the famous people demographic, too…

Ten Household Names Who Overcame AUD

There are many people I could have included, so please just treat this as a sample that is representative of the pervasiveness of successful people who became famous (for the right reasons), despite struggling with alcoholism, from varied walks of life. You can add your name!

  1. Award-winning actor, Bradley Cooper
  2. Star of the Harry Potter movies, Daniel Radcliffe
  3. Legendary singer-songwriter and Grammy Award winner, Billy Joel
  4. Multi-award winning actress, Carrie Fisher
  5. Best-selling author, Stephen King
  6. Former First Lady to US President Gerald Ford, Betty Ford
  7. Famous author, Ernest Hemingway
  8. Artist, Vincent van Gough
  9. Revered United Kingdom Prime Minister, Winston Churchill
  10. Astronaut and second person to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin.

Families and Friends

And I must recognize that the families and friends of AUD victims are real day to day leaders.

Books and Other Helpful Resources For You

As covered in a previous article (click here to read it), and Amazon have collaborated to provide you with recommended books at the top of this article. We ensure the recommendations are up-to-date and include books about alcoholism, books about treating alcohol use disorder, books about counseling families of alcoholics and books about research on alcohol use disorder.

We believe this is the best choice for you out of all websites we have researched…indeed, we only determined this mechanism as an unintended result of the research we conducted.

To get help, and to get an understanding about those that do, please make contact with alcohol addiction support groups. There will be one near you. Here are just a few organizations that will help you:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous –
  • Alcohol Rehab Guide –
  • Rehab4Alcoholism –


Alcoholism is way under-reported and affects just about everyone in life one way or the other.

Many leaders are sufferers of AUD. Overcoming, or dealing with, AUD makes many people better leaders…so please remember this if ever you doubt yourself. And know that many, many successful people are alcoholics…even if they no longer drink, they still consider themselves alcoholics and are vigilant in managing themselves.

We all need support, no matter what afflictions we do or don’t have. Books can help, support organizations can help and…best of all…families, friends and work colleagues can help. Feel confident that you can thrive…and ensure you discuss any problems you have, as starting the discussion starts your road to betterness.

Have your say about this important issue – leave comments below this article and share this article!

Onward and upwards!



About Author


  • Emmanuel Buysse

    Great post and good info. The things you are telling here, are things I never knew. 

    That it can be an environmental problem yes, but about the disease no. 

    And I have to say that you can be a leader when you are an alcoholic. We had a politician here in Belgium who was an alcoholic, you could clearly see it, yet he was a good minister. 

    Anyway, thanks for sharing it, it was nice to read it. 

    • David

      Hi Emmanuel

      Really appreciate your comments – many thanks!

      Yes, alcoholism being a disease is new to many people…as is the fact that it’s genetic. Some people ar emore likely to be AUD sufferers than others, through no fault of their own. Not just through a genetic disposition, but through environmental factos, such as abuse and neglect as a child, or being exposed to dysfunction in their families.

      Was your Belgium politician open about his AUD? Would love to know his name…



  • Jay

    This was really helpful. Alcoholism just like other addictions can be really terrible to overcome. It always gives you a bad feeling on the inside even when you are doing everything you possibly can to overcome it. A lot of people struggle with alcoholism and probably find ways to cope with it so it does not affect their lives in anyway.

    Something I know that might help a little is discussing your problem with someone. It can be pretty embarrassing but if you have someone you trust you can always open up to the person and get some assistance and advise in fighting your alcoholism addiction.

    • David

      Hi Jay

      Thanks for taking the time to post your comments – really appreciated!

      I agree with all you say…and it’s so IMPORTANT that people do find others, or even just one other, to speak with…it’s the first step in overcoming an awful disease.

      Kind regards


  • Paul

    What a great article. I sadly have a number of friends who suffer from AUD and everyone of them has said that the hardest thing is having to face people and explain why they are NOT drinking.  They say it is actually harder than the not drinking part as it is such an intrinsic part of our society.  I went ot a college football game the other week  – my first.  I walked in the gate and the first thing i did was head to the beer tent- not because i really wanted or needed a beer, just because it is what you do.  the funny thing is that beer is not sold at this particular stadium.  I was fine wihout it, but found it odd.  

    I am not an alcoholic but if i am thinking these things then how hard must it be on those with AUD issues.  Thanks for the eye opener.  


    • David

      Hi Paul

      Really appreciate your comments. They are so true.

      Re the comment that your friends with AUD made about the hardest thing is telling people why they are NOT drinking…it’s very common…and it is harder for many than refraining from drinking itself. This can become all-encompassing and play terribly and often on their mind.

      Maybe our article could be shared with them?  Just a thought…

      Kind regards


  • Tarun

    Hi David,

    Good post! My Dad suffers from AUD and he has struggled with it since he was 17! For many years he kept it hidden and when the family noticed, he refused to get help!

    He managed to finally kick in his 60’s however due to recent health issues he has resorted back to drinking! I will share your post with him so he can see that there is hope and he can overcome it again!


    • David

      Hi Tarun

      Thanks for taking the time to post your comments – much appreciated.

      I really appreciate how open and honest you were…and truly wish you every success with your father. It’s a tough disease to control and I hope our articles give him the impetus to beat his habit once more.

      Kind regards


  • mzakapon

    Hi David, This is a great post about alcoholic behavior and it’s affliction. I would not even know about so much information if I did not read this article. I only knew that drinking too much alcohol is bad for health. But I never realize difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic person. I have some friends who are sufferers of Alcohol Use Disorder and Some has control on it. I believe this information is useful for those friends who are not conscious about affliction of alcoholic behavior.

    Thanks for sharing information with us.

    • David

      Hi mzakapon

      Great to hear from you again!

      It’s interesting that pretty much everyone who posted a comment mentioned people they know with AUD. It really touches most people. 

      I am glad our article shed some light on the issue and hope it might help your friends.

      Kind regards


  • sheilandc

    Wow, what an eye opener. I definitely know someone who are in this path and could definitely use this helpful article to get information. Most importantly to get help. AUD is real. We just never know, the person whom we look up to may be struggling silently. It must be really hard.

    • David

      Hi sheilandc

      Thanks very mush for posting your comments.

      Yes, it is an eye opener! I think we all know someone/s who have this challenge and I do hope you share the article with the person you know, and that the article helps him or her.

      It is really hard for people suffering AUD.

      Thanks for your compassion.

      Kind regards


  • John

    Thank you for addressing this enormous social issue that is also a private battle!

    My sister-in-law just got out of rehab 4 days ago and, if I’m honest with you, I am starting to worry that my wife is going down the same path.

    Ultimatums do not solve this problem for anyone but the person issuing then carrying them out. But if you love the drinker, alcoholic or not, we should be more interested in healing them than just making our own problem go away.

    I know an “Andy” and I probably know a half-dozen of people like him.

    I’ve seen people climb backwards up that slide and come out on top of their game but I have seen some fly right off the end of the slide with both hands and legs in the air. My sister-in-law, for example, WAS a county judge in a very populous city.

    This disease can cost a person everything.

    I hope that by reading this article someone like me will gain some understanding and find the strength to see their person through.

    I am moved by your article!

    • David

      Hi John

      …and I am deeply moved by your comments!

      Thank you for sharing them. I only hope that you have success supporting your loved ones with this predicament because, yes, we love them and issuing an ultimatum is the last resort.

      I hope our article may be of some help to the people you know. You may note that every reader who has posted a comment knows someone/s with AUD…I think it’d be rare for someone not to, unfortunately. As you said, it is an enormous social issue…one all leaders should address.

      Kind regards…and very best wishes,


  • RanrenceWealthyAffiliate

    Upon accessing the website, it started off with quite a number of advertisements. Probably this is the format/design you prefer? To my opinion, it never directs straight to the subject topic when someone clicks on it. I need to get down a few paragraphs before I can read the article. Some people may not even read the article as they might have clicked away from the page to view the purchase. Maybe, this is also the purpose?

    With regards to the article, this is my personal opinion too. Whether a person is an alcoholic, it does not matter. As long as he/she stays sober at the right time; that is to exercise self control when to put a stop. Also, it is also not the corporate world, there are sober people out there who are always behaving like drunkard-sprouting nonsense all the time. A lot of people also battling with it, even when they know it is not good to harm people. Ultimately, we are human. It’s human to err.

    Thank you :o)

    • David

      Thanks for your comments, Ranrence

      In terms of the website design, I’m not sure how to do it better, as we collaborate with Amazon for Amazon to make recommendations based on the content of our articles. I guess this is at risk of people not seeing the start of our articles.

      I agree that sober people act up, and AUD suffereres behave, as well!

      Kind regards


  • ChrisChong

    Hi David,

    I really love your piece of article. It really reminds me about some of my mates who are alcoholics too, these are mates whom I’ve met in the company I’ve been working for. I’m a person who likes to chill out with friends for A drink or two.

    However, due to the corporate culture. I’d to blend in to the company’s alcoholism culture without noticing I was silently damaging my body at the same time. Friends who knew me well wouldn’t force me to drink if I don’t feel like it.

    But I still think any form of alcohol is welcomed EXCEPT any individual shouldn’t consume it excessively otherwise there’ll be a compound effect in terms of our health. What’s the point of socializing & chilling out with mates, ending up with alcohol related disease such as AUD.

    The main character of the article has clearly demonstrated that we don’t have to “impress” someone by drinking excessively. Practicing excessive drinking can only lead to obsessive compulsive disorder / any other form of addictions that’s related to alcohol.

    All in all, Andy has chosen to be a “true” leader by showing performance within his professionalism, not just demonstrating his abilities a “good drinker”.



    • David

      Hi ChrisC

      Thanks for taking the time to post your commentds – much appreciated!

      You shre some excellent insight on the topic and, like all our other readers who have posted comments, you have been touched by AUD through your friends.

      Thanks, again, for your insight.

      Kind regards