Five Steps to Combat Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Outpatient rehab

So you suspect that an employee may have an issue with substance abuse in the workplace. While you can’t immediately confront and fire them, there are steps that you can take to help end the cycle.

If you’ve never been faced with this situation before, there’s no need to worry. Following these five steps is simple, and will often result in better communication and resolution of the issue.

Look for the Signs

If you suspect that an employee is suffering from alcohol abuse or some other form of substance abuse, you need to know what to look for. Common signs of substance abuse in the workplace include mood swings ranging from irritable to sluggish, as well as decreasing value in appearance and poor performance. Not only that, but employees who suddenly shift from being amicable to turning argumentative and antagonistic towards co-workers is often a bad sign.

Document Everything

Being aware of the signs of potential drug abuse is great, but they mean nothing if you don’t take the time to document all of the changes you’re seeing. In order to confront the issue, you’ll need to bring up specific instances and behaviors with the employee in question.

Seek Professional Advice

Although documenting and alerting your supervisors to the issue are great starts, they’re no substitute for the advice of a professional counselor. Doctors who work at private drug rehab centers are a great place to start. Not only can they provide professional counsel, they can offer thoughts on if what you’re seeing is the real deal or not.

Approach the Employee in Question

It’s important to approach anyone you feel may be having trouble with substance abuse in the workplace, but never as an enforcer. Not only could that damage your relationship, it could potentially put you in harm’s way. Instead, express your concerns as a co-worker and friend first.

Present a Plan and Your Role in it

Whether you’re working with an employee assistance team or not, it’s important to consult supervisors and higher-ups to create a plan to help the employee in question, rather than act as enforcers or police the situation. In addition, it’s important for each person to have a specific role in helping.

When all is said and done, only the individual in question can decide whether or not they will seek help and change. However, you can take comfort in the fact that you did all you could before disciplinary action was taken.

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