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How to Tell If a Coworker Is Abusing Drugs in the Workplace

It can be hard to know what to do when you can suspect a coworker has a drug problem. You do not want to get that person in trouble but at the same time, their low performance can affect the workplace and drag everyone down if your coworker does not get help. It is important to speak to your coworker about their drug addiction as well as your boss to ensure your coworker gets help as quick as possible.

Signs Your Coworker Has a Drug Problem

Your coworker may not be thinking clearly since their mind and body is more focused on where to get their next fix instead of getting their work done. Your coworker may physically be there, but they are mentally somewhere else which can be bothersome if you’re trying to get their attention. Your coworker may be prone to suffering from multiple accidents or injuries since they are not mentally aware. They could hurt themselves or someone else by accident if they are operating heavy machinery or have a job with a lot of responsibility like a police officer, lawyer, teacher, etc. You also may have noticed that your coworker has been missing a lot of shifts lately. They could either be getting high at home or they are too insecure to show up at work in fear that others will know about their drug use by their appearance.

It is also possible that a coworker may have a drug addiction if you notice valuable pieces of property or money from the company has been stolen by your coworker. You may also notice a difference in hygiene in your coworker as well as extreme mood swings. It may be hard for them to follow simple instructions or are taking too long at accomplishing a task that was swift for them before.

Telling Human Resources

Before you speak to Human Resources, be certain that the symptoms you are noticing in your coworker are signs of drug addiction and not simply stress, not getting enough sleep, or feeling sick. If you are certain your coworker is struggling with drug addiction, speak to Human Resources in a non-judgemental way as you are not doing this to get someone in trouble but to help them. If you do not want to speak to your coworker about this, check with Human Resources if your company has a confidential hotline to call or an employee assistance program.

Telling Your Boss

If you are suspicious about your coworker abusing drugs, it is best to speak to your coworker first before reporting to your boss as you could get someone who may not have a drug problem in trouble. On the other hand, if you actually see someone using drugs in the workplace, that is the time to report your co-worker to Human Resources or your boss. If you decide to tell your boss, many companies have Employee Assistance Programs and procedures when it comes to reporting suspected drug addiction. If your coworker’s drug addiction is affecting the safety of others in the workplace, you may need to report that person.

Speaking to Your Coworker

It can be hard to initiate a conversation with your coworker about their drug use as you could be worried they will be angry at you for meddling in their business. If you have a close relationship with your coworker such as having a relationship outside of the office and speak to each other all of the time, your coworker may think you are being genuine for wondering. Just let them know that you are concerned about their health and want you to take care of it now before your boss or Human Resources find out, costing you your job. If you have only spoken to your coworker a few times in the whole time you two have worked together, your coworker may be defensive towards you. Just give your coworker examples about how their poor performance is affecting the company and to do something about it now.

Risk of Job Loss

Your coworker may not want to do anything about their drug addiction in fear that they can get fired if Human Resources or their boss finds out that they entered a rehab facility. The truth is that if an employee decides to enter a drug rehab facility, there are federal laws where you can be protected. The Americans With Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act says that a person cannot get fired from their job for having a drug problem if they decide to enter an addiction treatment program. On the other hand, these laws will not protect your coworker if their drug use is affecting their job performance or is in violation of company policies.

Preparing to Enter Treatment

If your coworker decides to go into treatment, this would be a wise choice as he or she will not be fired if you attempt treatment first. Your coworker should let your boss know what kind of treatment program they will do whether it is inpatient or outpatient to make sure it does not interfere with their schedule. It is best for your coworker to be open and honest with their boss since they will be struggling with withdrawal symptoms in the beginning. By speaking to your coworker about drug treatment options, you could be helping your coworker as well as your company.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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