Especially in small companies that can't afford in-house occupational alcoholism and employee assistance programs, employers and managers seldom deal effectively with employee alcoholism and drug abuse. Ignoring the problem obviously won't help. Nor will you solve anything by playing amateur psychologist.

The best approach, according to the National Council on Alcoholism (NCA), is always to discuss job performance, not personal problems, with the employee. A company can help employees by providing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people and programs in the community that offer counsel or treatment for personal problems. The company should make it clear that an employee's relationship with such a group is completely confidential. Here are some sugestions on who can help:

Public and private agencies, such as the Public Health Service's Alcohol Drug Abuse & Mental Health Division and Alcoholics Anonymous.

The National Council on Alcoholism (NCA, 733 Third Ave., Suite 1405, New York, NY 10017; (212) 986-4433) can give you the address and phone number of its chapter nearest you.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol Information, P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20852; (301) 468-2600) provides information and a director of occupational program consultants, professionals who work with businesses to develop employee assistance programs.

The Association of Labor Management Administrators and Consultants on Alcoholism (ALMACA, 1800 N. Kent St., Suite 907, Arlington, VA 22209; (703) 522-6272) represents professionals involved in occupational alcoholism programs and other types of employee assistance programs.