How To Spot Addiction In The Workplace

September 1st, 2021

As many individuals begin returning to in-office work, we think it’s important to take a look at how to spot addiction within your own workplace. Spotting someone who is battling with addiction within your work environment often times is not easy. Even spotting addiction in our loved ones can be difficult and those are often the people we’re closest to in our lives. So, spotting addiction with someone you might not be close with can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t signs that you can be aware of and sometimes recognize.

When someone is battling addiction, they are often really good at hiding it. This can make it difficult to identify, as they spend much of their time figuring out how to best conceal their struggles. Of the more than 14 million people who use illegal drugs, 70 percent are employed. Finding out how to spot signs of addiction in employees and how you can offer resources to get them the help they need.

One often telling sign that a coworker is struggling with addiction is them having difficulty with productivity and attendance. Sometimes this can include:

  • Being late to work, often with no explanation.
  • Leaving work early.
  • Making mistakes on easy tasks.
  • Falling asleep on the job.
  • Taking longer and longer lunch breaks.
  • Going to the bathroom more often.
  • Using all their days off or sick time.
  • Having problems meeting deadlines.

Sometimes workers struggling with addiction will even ask off on holidays, paydays or Mondays as these are common days where an addiction would be consumed with their addiction.

Another way that addiction can be spotted in the workplace is through physical changes within a colleague. Change in appearance can be a clue such as wearing dirty or wrinkled clothes, looking disheveled, neglecting personal hygiene. Physical symptoms like tremors, shaking, staggering, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, alcohol on breath (or constant use of breath mints and gum), runny nose (or always rubbing their nose), sweating, clammy hands, or looking spaced out can all be a bit telling.

Personality changes are also common amongst those battling an addiction. Individuals affected by substance abuse can show distinct changes in personality, with no identifiable cause. They are likely to become more moody and irritable, while also having difficulty paying attention. They may also lose their motivation and energy, displaying an “I don’t care” type of attitude.

No matter what the signs may be, the effects of drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace are devastating in many ways. For starters, employers lose money because work isn’t getting done. On top of that, other employees have to pick up the slack, which can lead to burnout, stress, and anxiety amongst teams.

As an employee and possible teammate of someone who is clearly struggling with some sort of substance issue, there are a few things you can do to help your colleague. First and foremost, don’t enable them. You should never cover for a coworker, make excuses for them, or loan them money. Instead, you should try to get them help by going to your supervisor or human resources department to discuss your concerns in a professional manner. Provide them with any evidence or anecdotes you have about the person’s substance use. That way, your employer can investigate and work on getting them the help they need.

Thankfully, many places of work have connections to programs that are able to assist their employees who may be in need of help. If you or a loved one are in need of help with substance abuse, contact the admissions team at Windmill Wellness Ranch today.