co-worker addiction

What to Do if a Coworker Has a Drug Problem

There is no arguing the fact that an individual who is abusing or addicted to drug substances is experiencing damaging effects in their relationships, health and life as a result.  In addition to this, the individual is also struggling with their weakened self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem.  It is no wonder, then, that many drug addicts lie to themselves and others about their problems.  One of the biggest lies they tell is that their drug habits affect no one but themselves, and therefore are no one’s business but their own.  In actuality, their drug use affects everyone around them, including family members, friends and coworkers.

How to Help a Coworker With a Drug Problem

It is not unusual for an individual who is abusing or addicted to drugs to feel helpless and hopeless about their situation.  Even when they recognize that drugs are causing them harm and they need help to overcome their drug problems, they can find it impossible to take that first step and reach out for help.  It is often the actions of the individual’s family members, friends or coworkers that help them to address and resolve their drug problems.

There is no doubt that drug abuse and addiction are very personal problems, and that simply confronting an individual about their drug use is unlikely to yield the desired results.  However, sitting back and doing nothing because one believes that the individual must be getting help elsewhere, or will eventually hit rock bottom and figure it out for himself or some similar excuse isn’t the right solution either.  Fortunately, there are some actions one can take to help their coworker move into recovery as smoothly as possible.

First, determine whether there are definite signs or symptoms of drug abuse or addiction.  It’s possible that even sober individuals occasionally exhibit some of these signs or symptoms, but a drug abuser or addict will usually exhibit many of these signs or symptoms on a regular basis.  If you do feel that you see many of the definite signs or symptoms of drug abuse or addiction in your coworker, talk to your supervisor or manager about your suspicions.  The truth is that unless you actually observe your coworker taking drug substances, all you really have is a suspicion that they may be using drug substances.  It will be up to your supervisor or manager to follow up on these suspicions and confirm whether drug abuse or addiction is occurring and needs to be addressed.  If you are wrong about your suspicions, there is no harm done.  However, if you are right about your suspicions, your coworker can receive the help they need before things spiral further out of control.

Even understanding that your speaking up can help a coworker start on the road to recovery, it can yet be difficult to consider affecting their life so dramatically by taking action.  This is why it is very important to remember why you would speak up at all.  Not only does drug abuse or addiction adversely affect the individual’s life, it can have a huge impact on worker safety and even customer safety–especially if your coworker is in the healthcare industry.  Statistics have indicated that drug abusers and addicts are largely unreliable on their jobs and are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents than their sober coworkers.  Every time an individual steps forward to help their drug abusing or addicted coworker get the assistance they need, they are also helping all the other people around them.  Not only that, but they get to watch their coworker take back control of their life and their future, knowing that they did something to help someone who simply couldn’t help himself.

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