How to Identify Addiction in the Workplace

Posted: 30th September 2019 09:11

Long hours, extreme amounts of stress, and job insecurity are just a few reasons employees turn to substance abuse as a way to cope. If you suspect one of your employees or co-workers has a problem, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for.

Personal Harm 

Addiction doesn’t start intentionally. No one starts out having a few drinks or casually engaging in using drugs intending to become an addict. Unfortunately, bad habits and risky behavior can quickly turn into an addiction that's difficult to recover from. The good news is that regardless of where you live, you can seek treatment. For instance, if you live in Southern California, there's likely a San Diego treatment center nearby. 

Alcohol Abuse 

Mondays can be a difficult day of the week for someone who abuses alcohol. This is because most people drink more heavily over the weekend and then they must stop drinking on Monday morning. Often, they enter the office with a hangover which can cause them to be a little off. They may be irritable, unsociable, sensitive to bright lights and express to others that they have a pounding headache. As a result, their work performance suffers significantly, and they may have trouble with simple tasks that they used to find easy. Others may just give in and call out sick. If you come in direct contact with them, you may be able to smell the remains of the alcohol on their breath and the appearance of bloodshot eyes, something they can't physically hide. 

Drug Abuse 

Drug addiction is no longer something that's limited to a certain group of people. Many people in high-paying executive jobs have drug problems. While usually there's no odor, such as with an alcoholic, there are common signs to look out for. Mood swings, sleepiness, hyperactivity, lack of focus, and bloodshot eyes are just a few. If you notice any of these signs frequently throughout the workweek, your employee or co-worker may have a serious addiction to drugs. 

The Talk 

Having a person addicted to either drugs or alcohol on the job can be a liability. If, after reviewing their behavior, you feel that something is still wrong, it's in your best interest to have a talk with them. You can start out slow, with a few questions about how they are, and then ask them if they have a problem. Follow this up by offering to assist them in getting help. 


Hopefully, after the talk and advice, your employee or co-worker will decide to seek treatment and begin the road to recovery. During the first couple of weeks, the urge to return to bad habits is the greatest threat. However, with the love and support of family, good friends and the staff, they can make a full recovery and return to the life they enjoyed prior to the addiction.

Seeking Another Career 

In many cases, the job is the reason for the abuse. Take, for instance, Wall Street and the high-pressure environment that encourages socialized drinking. Many executives often go out for drinks after work and, if you refuse, you can expect to lose out on things like promotions or other opportunities. Sometimes you have to remove yourself from the environment that created the trouble in the first place, and a career change may be something to consider. 

Drug and alcohol addictions are nothing new, and unfortunately, they are problems that will continue. If you suspect that someone you work with or employ has a problem, speak openly with them in private and do everything you can to convince them to get the help they need to recover.