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Is My Coworker Using Drugs

by Landmark Recovery

September 3, 2019

We are around are coworkers almost as much as we are around our families and friends, so, for many people, it is quite clear when they are doing something that is different than normal — this includes drug abuse. In fact, more than 60 percent of adults know people who have gone to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Before you make any big decisions or decide to go to human resources, you need to be certain that there is actual abuse going on. Because many common illnesses have similar symptoms as drug abuse, it is important that you be sure that your coworker isn’t suffering from something like insomnia. Educating yourself on the details of drug addiction is one way that you can learn more about the problems that substance abusers face and make a more informed decision.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Before looking at the signs and symptoms that could point toward someone dealing with some sort of substance abuse problem, it may be best to look at causes and stressors that can trigger substance abuse in the first place.

Some of the common causes of substance abuse can be stress from work or home life, financial problems, divorce, a death in the family, medical problems, new medications, and more. All of these things may cause someone to start drinking more, using prescription pills to excess, or begin using illicit drugs.

Once substance use has started, it can lead to a number of different workplace problems that could be a strong sign of substance abuse.

Some workplace signs of substance abuse include accidents or injuries to the person or other employees, a lack of productivity, theft, violence, and more.

Other warning signs can include:

  • Abrupt changes in behavior
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Being easily angered
  • Skipping or being absent from work
  • Inability to explain reasons for doing something
  • Things turn up missing
  • Frequent accidents
  • Tired all the time

Impact Of Drug Use On The Workplace

Not only does drug use lead to negative consequences for the user, and other coworkers, it can also lead to decreased profits. According to the University of Massachusetts, studies have shown that business owners in the United States lose an estimated $100 billion per year because of substance abuse.

What To Do If Your Coworker Is Using Drugs

When an alcohol or drug issue goes unaddressed in the workplace it can lead to costly and even a dangerous environment for some individuals.

If you have noticed that a coworker or employee is showing warning signs of substance abuse and you are worried that they may be under the influence of drugs, you have a few options. But first, you should document any behaviors that stand out or may seem strange.

After writing these things down, you can take these observations with a supervisor to help confirm some suspicions that you may have.

Following this, your best plan of action may be to report the drug use to a higher-up. If you want to go a more personal route, you may want to reach out to the coworker or employee directly, however, this is something that can backfire. Many people may be angry with you looking into their lives with a fine-toothed comb.

Because of the problems that you can run into with speaking to your coworker or employer directly, it may be best to seek the help of a third party.

Creating A Drug-Free Workplace

While substance abuse can be a problem in the workplace if employers make conscious efforts to improve their workplace to try and make it a drug-free environment, you may be able to avoid any problems in the first place.

Through education and drug-free workplace policies, employers can increase awareness for the issue and work to avoid any workplace drug use. Moreover, employers can begin to implement pre-employment drug screening for all new hires.

There are also Employee Assistance Programs, that are available to help employees with many problems that they may be facing. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers a number of different services including assessments, counseling, referrals, and more. EAPs are used to target several different complex issues that affect emotional and mental well-being. These problems can range from substance abuse and alcoholism to stress and family problems to psychological disorders.

While EAPs can be a form of treatment for employees, if you notice a coworker or an employee has a serious problem, they will likely need a more comprehensive treatment plan.

Treatment For Employees

While creating a drug-free workplace can be effective and EAPs can provide some type of short-term support, an inpatient or outpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility is still the best option for someone who wants to achieve sobriety.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment, or residential treatment, is perhaps the most complete and comprehensive form of drug and alcohol treatment available. Inpatient is a 24-hour treatment facility that utilizes both detoxification and behavioral therapy methods to help patients get sober and stay sober. Detox is used to help patients safely withdrawal from their respective substances in a medically supervised environment.

Along with detoxification, patients will be exposed to behavioral therapy programs, such as cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients identify and develop strategies to help them overcome problems related to relapse.

Outpatient Treatment

Following inpatient treatment, patients are usually referred to an outpatient facility to help them continue with their treatment program. Outpatient, like inpatient treatment, generally consists of a number of behavioral therapy programs, both individual and group, to help them stay consistent with whatever treatment plan they are in.

While outpatient treatment generally follows inpatient treatment, outpatient can be the first treatment option that you explore. Essentially, outpatient consists of about three sessions weekly at various times throughout the day. The flexibility of this schedule allows people to continue outside arrangements and any prior commitments they had. This means that they can continue working if their employer allows them to take some time off to go to their treatment program a couple of times a week. While outpatient is infinitely more flexible than inpatient treatment, inpatient should still be considered as it can end up being more effective.

Next Steps

Whether you are choosing inpatient or outpatient treatment, if your coworker or employee is suffering from some type of substance abuse issue, rehabilitation is the best approach to achieving sobriety. While things like EAPs can help to provide some form of short-term support, they are not as effective as an actual drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility can be. If you are interested in learning more about how a recovery center can help, you can reach out to Landmark Recovery.

Landmark Recovery is a Carmel drug and alcohol treatment facility that is dedicated to providing quality service in a location that is close to you so you don’t have to uproot your entire life to get addiction help. If you are interested in learning more about how Landmark can help your loved one, please visit our website and reach out to our admissions team today.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.