Did you know that Australia loses an estimated $6 billion per year in productivity due to alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace?
This according to research published by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation of Australia.
If you think that this is something that you shouldn’t worry about — think again.
According to ADF.org., one in ten workers have had negative experiences with co-workers taking drugs. These include being prevented from doing their job, always covering for their co-worker, and experiencing minor to major accidents at work.
Granted that the workplace is not necessarily the happiest place on earth, every worker should still feel safe in their working environment. Rampant drug use in the workplace robs employees of the chance to feel safe, and thereby affecting their productivity.
So if and when you suspect that a colleague or co-worker is using illicit drugs, do not keep it to yourself. There are steps that you can take when faced with this situation.
So whenever you suspect that a colleague or co-worker is doing drugs, it would be irresponsible to just keep quiet. There are steps that you can take to deal with this kind of situation. But before you do anything, ask yourself first why you think your colleague is hooked on drugs.
Is my co-worker using illicit drugs?
Always remember that as you approach, you should take into consideration your co-workers best interests. This is not to tattle on your co-worker.
Your goal is to make sure your co-worker is saved before it’s too late, as well as to maintain a general sense of well-being in your workplace.
With that in mind, be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Frequent absences
- A negative disposition or having a bleak outlook in life
- Lack of focus and productivity
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- The need to sleep at work
- Not eating well or a lack of appetite
- A frequency of accidents and mishaps
- Requesting for worker’s compensation much more than the average employee
- Involvement in workplace fatalities
Look for the physical signs of drug abuse
Being extra careful in this type of situation is a must. Inspect first if your suspected co-worker is exhibiting any of the following physical signs:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Sudden and drastic weight gain or weight loss
- A gaunt and tired appearance
- Slurred speech patterns
- Highly irritable
- Frequent drowsiness
- Changes in personal grooming habits; no regard for hygiene
- Unusual body odour
- Excessive sweating
If your co-worker has more than two of the signs above, you have every right to be worried. You may not need to go to management right away without consulting your co-worker.
Sometimes, a colleague’s empathy and concern go a long way. Remember that you are dealing with someone’s livelihood and reputation. This is a delicate matter that has to be dealt with using utmost confidentiality.
How to handle your suspicion?
1. Talk to our co-worker
If you choose to talk to your colleague, avoid being confrontational. You do not know what your co-worker is going through. There are many reasons why a person could show the above symptoms.
It’s best to start by asking them how they are and if they’re okay.
Always, always, come from a place of compassion and try to empathise with your co-worker. Make sure he or she knows that you are concerned for their well-being.
It could be that your co-worker has developed a poor way of handling stress and pressure. It could also be that he or she is having a very difficult time at home.
While a drug user may not admit to having a problem, it won’t hurt to reach out.
After speaking with your co-worker, it is probably time to alert human resources to the situation.
2. Talk to Human Resources
This is an unavoidable step to take when it comes to addressing your co-workers illicit drug use.
Drug addictions are a very serious and delicate matter. They are to be dealt with by a professional or trained personnel.
Human Resource department personnel are well-trained to deal with a drug using employee. Chances are, they’ve handled this type of situation before and would know what to do.
3. Talk to their Supervisor
If reporting to Human Resources fails to yield any results, talk to your supervisor.
Your manager is hopefully trained in dealing with this type of issue. Also refer to your company drug and alcohol policy. Ideally, there should be written guidelines for handling a drug using employee.
The best workplace policies include drug testing as part of their program.
Finally, it is best to express your concerns regarding your safety and everyone else’s. This should be treated as an urgent matter as there is a risk to the safety of the employees.
In the event that your company does not have a workplace alcohol and drug policy, suggest to create an immediate action plan to assess the situation.
Sitting back and minding your own business is not the attitude you should be taking when dealing with a possible drug addicted colleague. Drug addiction not only has the ability to destroy your means of livelihood, but it could also lead to something much worse like loss of life.
Every employee has a responsibility to maintain a positive and safe workplace where you all can thrive. Always take it upon yourself to take the necessary steps to prevent any untoward incidents at work.
This usually means seeking help from professionals trained to deal with drug use at the workplace.