What to Do if You Suspect Your Coworker Has an Addiction Problem

You spend a lot of time with your coworkers. You may get to know a few of them on a personal level. So, what do you do if you suspect one of them has an addiction problem? For professionals in the workplace, this is a challenge faced more often than you might think.

Confronting your coworker may not be the immediate answer, but sitting back and doing nothing isn’t either. Follow these steps to help a coworker who may have a drug or alcohol problem.

Do not approach the coworker directly.

If you sporadically confront your coworker about their potential addiction problem, you’ll likely be met with resistance and denial. This could easily create tension between you and your coworker, something that should be avoided if possible.

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Talk to management about your suspicions.

Many employers would much rather allow their employee to seek help for the addiction problem, rather than hire (and train) someone new to take their place. Politely talk to your supervisor or manager about your suspicions, and provide accurate proof to back up your claims. Many employers offer drug/alcohol treatment programs that can get your coworker back on the right track.

Don’t worry about being wrong or feeling guilty.

Think of it this way – if you’re wrong about your suspicions, what harm will be done? Everyone will go back to their workdays and life will go on. If you are correct in your suspicions, your coworker will get the help they need before things get worse, you will have contributed to their safety and well-being, and you will have prevented worse consequences from occurring.

Remember why you’re doing this.

Drug addiction has a huge impact on worker safety, as well as patient safety if you work in the healthcare industry.

“Statistics indicate that employed people who abuse substances are unreliable on the jobs,” says NurseTogether.com. “Compared to nonusers, alcohol and illicit drug users are more likely to have been involved in a workplace accident in the past year.” By helping your coworker, you’re also helping the people around you.

If you notice the signs of addiction in your coworker, the worst thing you can do is sit back and do nothing. Don’t ignore the signs. Take action by following the steps above, or learn more about the professional treatment program.

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