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3 Signs of Addiction in the workplace and what you can do about it

3 Signs of Addiction in the workplace and what you can do about it

12/9/2021 by Chris Cobb

Addiction is everywhere. It does NOT discriminate. It’s in the streets, at home with the kids and the parents, in the schools including the students and the teachers, in the workplace with the employees and CEOs alike. Sometimes it is easy to tell when someone has a problem with substance abuse, sometimes not so easy. So, what are some things you can look for to know if you need to call in an intervention professional or an addiction coach? Here is a quick list of signs to help you recognize that someone may need help.

Here are the TOP 3 Signs of Addiction in the workplace

  1. Persistent Lethargy –

This one may or may not be obvious depending on the individual. And it’s not always a result of substance abuse, but it is certainly a red flag to look for if you suspect someone using in the workplace. If your coworker is constantly coming into work with an inability to perform their job properly due to lack of sleep, lack of energy, or what you can tell is a ‘hangover’ or ‘come down’, it may be worth talking to them or upper management to find out if there is something that can be done to help. The first step here if suspicion of drug or alcohol use in the workplace is typically a drug screen. Yes, alcohol can also be detected up to 72 hours after being consumed, so long as the panel includes it. If it’s found that the employee is using, rather than firing them right away, perhaps it’s time to call in an addictions coach or a Sober on Demand professional accordingly to find a solution that may help this employee take control of their issues with substance abuse. Read further for more signs to look for.


  1. Constantly Out of Sight –

We all know that one person we have worked with at some point who we think is simply lazy and likes to avoid work at all costs, especially when on the clock. This can be for a number of reasons. Maybe they are lazy, or maybe they are trying to avoid being seen because they took a look in the bathroom mirror right after clocking in. Bloodshot eyes, dark circles under the eyes, paleness in complexion, or anything out of the ordinary may be a sign that someone is suffering substance abuse of some kind and just can’t take control of it on their own. I know when I was working as an I.T. admin in a medical products store, I definitely did not like talking face to face with my boss the morning after a week-long bender. I’d avoid anyone at all costs by taking as many smoke breaks as I could, hiding out in the bathroom just in case I’m about to lose my lunch, or hogging the coffee machine in the break room as a feeble attempt to stay awake for just long enough to make it through the day without being shaken awake by my team members. The first step in gathering information from an obvious avoider is confrontation. Sitting down in the front office with them and studying their reactions to your questioning. If you notice or suspect there may be a substance abuse issue with the individual, it’s time to discuss options. They either straighten up by seeking treatment or talking to an addictions professional or other type of counselor, or they must go, so that no one in the business is put in harms way, or affected in their own jobs by the potential repercussions of this person’s addiction. What is another way you can spot addiction in an employer or employee? Keep reading to find out.


  1. Changes in Behavior –

Let’s turn the tables and say it’s your boss you’re worried about. Karen just isn’t herself lately. She is doing all of the above and then some, say she seems more careless than usual, and not properly prioritizing and assigning tasks to the team, causing awkward silence in the office because no one knows what to do… It always seems more difficult to confront the big cheese, yes? But this could be the avoidance that shuts breaks the entire business and causes loss of employment for everyone. If you notice someone acting out of line in obvious ways like coming in drunk, or ‘skunky’, or even cleaning the light switches with a toothbrush… It’s time to take action, no matter who it is or how high up in the company they rank. Work must be a well-oiled machine in order for any business to flourish. If you notice anything peculiar that may be a result of substance abuse such as illicit drug addiction or alcoholism, it’s time to look into all available options for a solution including but not limited to addictions coaching for the whole workplace, substance abuse training and how to spot signs,  Sober on Demand professionals, intervention, and keeping awareness in the forefront of everyone’s minds. Having a plan is vital, keeping all the business prepared for a situation that could possibly jeopardize part or all of the company.


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