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Recognizing Addiction in the Workplace

employees don't seem to recognize addiction in the workplace or notice that their male coworker has nodded off in a meeting

Awareness of substance use symptoms can help you and your colleagues recognize if someone at work is under the influence. Aside from the problems substance abuse can create in the workplace, awareness provides an opportunity for you to make a difference in someone’s life by stepping up and initiating an intervention. Many workplaces have strict codes regarding substance abuse. If you need to take time off work to enter rehab, it’s a good idea to consult your employee handbook before having a conversation with your supervisor. At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we take pride in providing effective addiction treatment for professionals.

To learn more about addiction in the workplace, reach out to us today at 727.513.5972 to speak with a trained representative who can provide you with more information.

Recognizing Addiction in the Workplace

There are a lot of stereotypes about the kind of person who abuses drugs. In many instances, people indicate surprise when they learn a person has a drug or alcohol abuse problem and is going to rehab.

Never underestimate a person who is committed to masking their personal issues. Keeping this in mind, there are red flags that can indicate something is not quite right. This may relate to workplace behavior or unusual comments made about a person’s home life or activities they do or do not engage in during their personal time.

It’s important to know your workplace’s protocol for handling issues surrounding drug use, abuse, and addiction. Not all companies have the same types of policies. In some instances, companies may prefer that you speak with a supervisor instead of directly approaching a colleague. This might be out of concern for personal safety or because the company’s Human Resources department has a plan of action in place to deal with these types of issues.

Substance Use Symptoms

You can learn how to spot red flags that a person you engage with on a regular basis is showing signs that someone has changed. Maybe they have started showing up late to work or calling in sick more often. In other instances, the signs are far less obvious.

Common signs and symptoms of drug abuse and addiction may include:

  • Constantly making excuses
  • Hygiene issues
  • Very frequent or prolonged trips to the restroom
  • Frequent requests to take breaks
  • Change in friends or activities
  • Asking to borrow money
  • Shakiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Paranoia
  • Angry outbursts
  • Mood swings

It’s important to keep in mind that there are perfectly legitimate reasons why someone may need to use a restroom frequently. For example, if they have GI issues. A single sign may be a reason to have a concern about a person’s well-being, but this does not necessarily indicate that they have a drug problem. Having a variety of signs and symptoms relating to drug abuse, withdrawal, and general life issues can indicate that there is a serious problem going on.

Why People Abuse Drugs

Faulting someone for having a problem with drugs or alcohol is not going to help them get their life back on the right track. While company policy may be to immediately terminate a person for drug use while at work or because they have a zero-tolerance policy, this is not the best way for people to treat one another.

Drug abuse is often a sign that a person is struggling. Past trauma, relationship issues, and common life stressors can create anxiety and stress. People who lack effective coping mechanisms may turn to drugs as a way to numb these unpleasant feelings and concerns.

Unresolved trauma is a common reason for substance abuse and addiction. Dealing with the core issues that lead to drug abuse in the context of therapy, rehab, an anonymous group, a 12-step program, or other means can be helpful in finding a way to break the cycle of abuse and move forward with a more healthy and balanced lifestyle.

In many instances, a person with a substance abuse disorder has a co-occurring mental health issue. It’s possible that they would benefit from Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) or else that the medications they are currently prescribed as not working well enough.

Appropriate Interventions

It can be difficult to know the best way to have an intervention but the best time is always as soon as feasible. Early intervention can make a world of difference when it comes to a person’s safety, as well as avoiding the long-term effects of drug abuse and addiction on a person’s body and mind.

In a workplace setting, you may feel comfortable speaking directly to a colleague you know well about changes in their behavior or work performance. You can politely ask them if there is something going on in their life and attempt to assess if drugs may be playing a role.

There are many instances when it may feel too difficult or inappropriate to approach a person directly and question them about changes you have noticed in them. In this case, it may be best to consult with another trusted colleague or a colleague who has a better relationship with this individual. Maybe they will be able to shed light on the situation.

If you feel safe speaking with management without causing more harm than good, this can be a positive route for intervention. A supervisor with good intentions may be able to confront a struggling employee and try to help them address their situation. If it turns out that drug abuse is an issue, a good supervisor will work with an employee to help them figure out a way to receive proper treatment without losing their job. This also comes into play when a person returns to work after rehab. A good supervisor will help an employee balance their workload, so a newly sober person does not feel overwhelmed.

Contact Us Today about Addiction Treatment for Professionals

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we provide the best possible care for our clients with an understanding that discretion can be essential and necessary for certain individuals. When developing a treatment plan, we make sure to keep in mind the particulars of your life circumstances for a sensible path to lasting recovery. Reach out to us today at 727.513.5972 for more information about how we can help you on your path to recovery. You can also fill out our online form, and we will get back to you.