How can you tell a coworker has a substance abuse problem, and what do you do about it?
-WATCH FOR SIGNS. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, signs that may indicate a coworker’s substance abuse problem include work absences with no notification, frequent disappearances from the work site, work performance that alternates between high and low productivity, and progressive deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene.
-SMALL-BUSINESS VENERABILITY. Businesses without substance abuse policies can be particularly venerable. People who cannot adhere to substance abuse policies often seek out jobs that do not have such policies. The cost of one accident from a substance abusing employee could devastate a small business.
-HURTFUL HELPING. Don’t be an enabler by covering up poor work performance or lending them money. It may seem like this is helping, but these actions actually can help perpetuate the addiction.
-DON’T INTERVENE ON YOUR OWN. Drug and alcohol problems are complex and should be handled by professionals. Getting professionals involved is most beneficial to both the substance abusing individual and the business.
-IF YOU ARE THE BOSS, DO NOT DELAY IN TAKING ACTION. Letting things go often leads to increased isolation for the substance abuser and worsens the problem.
If you are having this issue at work, the book “Alcohol at Work: Managing Alcohol Problems and Issues in the Workplace.”