Does your coworker seem off? Has the way they’ve been acting begun to start affecting the workplace flow? In some professional settings, people may feel uncomfortable asking their coworkers about personal struggles — that doesn’t mean the problem’s not there. For example, a 2013 study done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 68.9% of the estimated 22 million illicit drug users are fully or part-time employed. It was also found that 79.3% of binge drinkers were also employed. How can you tell if your coworker is one of them? Here are a few signs to look out for:
Missing Work Deadlines
Has your coworker been missing deadlines or doing the job not as well as usual? Maybe they’re making a lot of mistakes, missing important meetings, or even making mistakes that put others at risk when using (especially if operating machinery is involved). There are many reasons why work slip ups happen, but if it’s in addition to these other signs, there’s a good chance they may need addiction treatment to get their life back on track.
Going to the Bathroom a Lot
Another sign your coworker could be struggling with addiction or even using on the job is if they take a lot of bathroom breaks. It’s possible they use their trips to the bathroom to use drugs or alcohol. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m pretty sure someone would notice if they were using in the bathroom.” In reality, addicts have very clever ways to hide their substances — because they depend on them to function. Maybe your coworker comes back from their bathroom break, and they all of a sudden seem to be feeling great! The truth is that these ups and downs are actually a sign that they’re stuck in the cycle of addiction, which could be life-threatening.
Tired All The Time
Have you noticed that your coworker has been acting tired and sluggish? Of course we all have long nights and everyone’s allowed an off day, but if your coworker is always coming into the office complaining about how tired they are, it could be a sign of addiction. Using drugs and alcohol over long periods of time, their sleep cycle gets messed up, so even when they’re trying to sleep instead of party, they’re still not getting the deep sleep a non-addict would. You might even find a coworker asleep at their desk — a sure sign that something’s going on.
Emotional Highs & Lows
Let’s be real… all of us have had a bad day at work. Extreme mood swings, however, are a huge sign that drugs or alcohol could be a factor. Long-term abuse of drugs and alcohol can change the way people think. That alone can cause intense highs and lows, but it also can cause withdrawals. When an addict or alcoholic doesn’t get their “fix,” they can begin to get angry or irritated. Not sure how to tell if your coworker could be a high-functioning drug addict or alcoholic? Give us (the experts) a call and we’ll share other tell-tale signs.
Changes in Appearance Due to Drugs & Alcohol
Has your coworker been coming to work looking like sh**, not just every once in-awhile, but every day. Drug and alcohol abuse seriously affects a person’s body, which shows directly on someone’s physical appearance. You will start to notice dark circles under the eyes or a swollen face. Some drug users pick at their skin, causing sores. Alcoholics can get puffy and gain weight easily. Cocaine addicts may be sniffling all day long, and blaming it on their allergies even in the middle of winter. Intravenous drug users may have bruises and sores on their inner arms. You may notice some other physical signs of drug or alcohol abuse like shakes, tremors, dilated pupils, or sudden weight fluctuations.
Don’t gloss over these details like most of your other coworkers do. Maybe you wouldn’t typically ask a coworker about personal or out of the workplace struggles, but when drinking and drug habits begin to make their way into the workplace it’s a problem for everyone involved, especially if your coworker is responsible for other people’s safety. Your coworker may be in denial that they are an addict or alcoholic, and you checking in on them could be the last straw they need to seek residential addiction treatment.
Approaching Your Coworker About Addiction
When you approach your coworker about their signs of addiction, remember that something else could be going on. Keep the conversation general from the start. If they do admit to substance abuse issues, don’t just criticize them. Take the opportunity to give them a solution! It’s always helpful to encourage an addict or alcoholic to get the addiction treatment they deserve. Substance abuse is a serious disease that needs to be treated professionally. Your addicted coworker might even want to take time off from work to heal themselves with a residential addiction treatment program. Be prepared for pushback and possibly anger, but know that reaching out to someone and showing you care is always welcomed — even if it doesn’t seem like that at first.
Addiction Recovery for Your Coworker
At Transformations Care, we use a dual-diagnosis approach to address not only your coworker’s addiction, but the mental health issues tied to years of trauma that may be fueling it.
If you see signs of a coworker or friend struggling with addiction, don’t let them battle it alone. For more information on how to approach your coworker about their addiction, reach out to us today! Our admissions team can answer any questions you might have and even provide you with information to give to your coworker. Help them take the first step today and give us a call at 424.339.0965.
Getting Clean & Sober at Home
Today, more than 75% of hospitals and healthcare providers offer access to telehealth treatment, with 29 states having gone so far as to enact telehealth parity laws, which force insurance companies to reimburse patients for telehealth at the same rates as they would for in-person treatment.
If you’ve been thinking about getting clean and sober, or if you’ve been wanting to work on and strengthen the recovery you already have, it’s never been easier to do it through telehealth.