Yes, frequent tardiness and absenteeism can be a sign of substance abuse. In fact, the NCADI found that substance abuse can lead to three times the number of sick days being used in comparison to an employee without a substance abuse issue.
Yes, alcoholics are potentially covered under the ADA anti-discrimination laws. Alcoholism is considered a disability, and employers might be expected to accommodate time off or varied scheduling for any therapy, rehabilitation, or other alcoholic support groups.
It is always best to reach out to a supervisor or your HR department before confronting a fellow employee. If you have a close relationship with this person, consider speaking outside of work and use facts not feelings to discuss your concerns.
Support and compassion are essential when dealing with an alcoholic in the workplace. Refer to company policy and offer helpful resources for recovery.