Is Your Co-Worker Doing Drugs?
Posted under Intervention on Monday, June 29th, 2009
It is not generally an easy task to determine if someone you know is using drugs. It is particularly difficult if it is someone that you are only around at work. At work, people tend to be on their best behavior, and they make a point of trying to appear as though everything is fine regardless of what is going on in their lives.
One of the first things that people usually look for when they suspect that someone is abusing drugs is behavioral changes. It is important to keep in mind, however, that sometimes people go through behavioral changes for a variety of different reasons. It does not necessarily have to be due to drug use. Stress, depression, and emotional issues can all cause a person to behave in ways that are not “normal” for him or her.
If you are concerned that one of your co-workers might have a drug problem, there are some signs you can look for that might confirm your suspicions:
- Difficulty completing assignments that used to be completed with ease
- Missing excessive amounts of time from work
- Sudden financial problems
- Avoiding interaction with other co-workers, friends, or family members
You might also observe your co-worker’s physical appearance. If the person is normally neat, well-dressed, and properly groomed, then it should be a warning sign that something is wrong if that individual begins neglecting personal hygiene, dressing sloppily, or dressing inappropriately for work. The person might also be excessively tired, have slurred speech, or move unsteadily.
Depending on the drug that your co-worker is using, you might also notice some other signs of drug abuse:
- Persistent cough
- Red, runny nose
- Watery, bloodshot eyes
- Mood swings
If you feel that one of your co-workers has a drug problem, there are some things you can do to be proactive and try to obtain help for that person. To begin with, you should never cover for someone who is slacking off on their own duties. Though it may seem (at least on the surface) that you are doing that person a favor, the reality is that you would be acting as that individual’s enabler. This type of activity will not benefit your co-worker because it will only allow him or her to continue with self-destructive behaviors.
You might also want to pass your concerns along to a supervisor or to a human resources representative. Before you take this type of action, however, you should be fairly certain that something is truly wrong with your co-worker. Also remember that you should never attempt to counsel or help a suspected drug user on your own. These situations are best handled by professionals who are trained to deal with substance abusers.
Your company may already have a drug-free workplace policy in effect. If so, then the human resources department should be able to provide help for your co-worker. Such assistance might very well save not only the health of that individual, but his or her job as well.
1. Alberta Health Services. “When Someone You Know Has a Drug Problem.” http://www.aadac.com/86_775.asp. Accessed 17 April 2009.
2. Phoenix House. “Basic Facts: Drugs, Alcohol, and the Workplace.” http://
www.phoenixhouse.org/National/DrugFacts/drugfacts_workplace.html. Accessed 17 April 2009.