In Addiction, Support, Treatment

It’s not uncommon to find that many Americans who have a substance abuse problem continue to maintain their employment. Individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol in the workplace are known as high-functioning, meaning that they are still able to maintain their overall duties. Individuals are often in denial, after all they have managed to maintain the appearance of success in spite of their addiction. However, under the surface and most times eventually above many individuals are faced with major psychological and emotional damage due to their abuse. Much of our time is spent in the workplace; therefore you may be more exposed to the signs and symptoms of a colleagues addiction. Below are some things to look out for that may suggest a problem:


  • A change in behavior
  • Openly discussing financial issues
  • Decline of personal relationships outside of work
  • Deterioration in personal hygiene
  • Taking noticeable time off or missing days of work
  • Frequent accidents or injuries
  • Frequent tardiness
  • Being secretive
  • Avoiding supervisors or managers
  • Decreased quality of work
  • Lack of explanations for abnormal behavior
  • Everyday tasks requiring more time and seem to be more difficult
  • Changes in professional relationships with coworkers
  • Other coworkers commenting/complaining about the person’s behavior
  • Items missing from the workplace


These signs do not always indicate that there is an addiction issue; however, it is important not to disregard them. If you feel that your coworker exhibits any of these signs as well as performance issues, express your concerns with your supervisor. Your supervisor may want to bring this issue to your Human Resources Department or Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It is essential that someone intervenes early before any substance abuse issues worsen. Stepping in as soon as you can protect the safety and well-being of the person suffering from the addiction as well as yourself and your colleagues.


Author: Lindsey Bozzi – Footprints to Recovery, Admissions Coordinator

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