How to Recognize Drug Abuse in Coworkers

Affecting more than 40 million Americans, drug abuse is sure to touch our lives. Drugs are not discriminatory, so there is no one specific race, gender, or occupation that are more likely to abuse drugs. Chances are we either have personal experience with drug abuse or know someone who does. While many associate the term “drug” with addictive street drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, drugs can also include prescription drugs and alcohol.

On average, people spend around 1/3 of their day at work. During this time, co-workers become familiar with the behavior of each other. Since drug use affects the behavior of its users, co-workers may be first to recognize the effects of drug abuse.

How to Identify Drug Abuse Among Co-Workers

Watch how the alleged drug user spends his or her time. Drug users often spend time by themselves to prevent others from noticing change in their behaviors. Alleged drug users also may lie about how they spend their time, if it was spent doing drugs rather than something else constructive. Inform the supervisor because he or she may be able to help get the alleged drug addict involved at work. Team projects may be assigned, so that an alleged drug user is required to spend time around others.

Notice physical appearance. Several signs of drug abuse can be observed by closely watching changes in physical appearance. Signs, such as bloodshot eyes, fatigue, hyperactivity and weight gain or loss, are common among drug abusers. Ask him or her to join you at the gym.

Observe for loss of interest in occupational and social activities. Drug addicts commonly lose interest in work, school and social functions because their main goal is to focus on their addictions. If co-workers lack in work performance, drop out of school and stop participation in social functions, it may be likely they have a drug-addiction problem. A sudden loss of interest in something one enjoys is a common indication of drug addiction. Ask him or her to come to a football game or other local activity.

Review financial difficultly. If co-workers are frequently asking to borrow money personally or from the company or equipment is missing, it is probable, if other signs exist, that they have drug problems. Collection calls from creditors at work can easily identify when co-workers are experiencing financial problems. If co-workers are evicted or experience repossession of property, such as an automobile, it may be apparent they are having financial difficulty, which can be caused by a drug addiction.

Look for changes in personal life. Drug addiction can cause lifestyle changes, as well as the lives of people around them. Because of the effects of drug addiction, marriages and relationships can fail. Drug addicts may also lose custody of children. Ask the alleged drug user for him or her and their family to join you for a cookout.

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