How to Help an Employee or Colleague Dealing With Addiction

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on September 8, 2020.

An unaddressed addiction in the workplace can impact your team's well-being and productivity. Beyond its impact on the employee, addiction affects their coworkers and their results. Understanding how to help an employee dealing with addiction and identify the signs will enable you to promote a healthy workplace for everyone.

How Does Addiction Impact the Workplace?

According to the Harvard Health Blog, the negative effects of addiction on American businesses and organizations include:

  • Lost profits
  • Lower productivity
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Decreased quality of work
  • Higher occupational injury rates
  • More incidences of workplace theft
  • Higher turnover rates
  • Decreased employee morale

What Does Addiction at the Workplace Look Like?

A team member's addiction may have signs that you can notice at work. While they don't guarantee a substance use disorder, many of the noticeable symptoms of addiction overlap with other conditions that require help, such as severe depression. You can look for signs like:

  • Sudden changes in behavior: An employee with an addiction might have unexpected changes in their behavior, including irritability, isolation and defensiveness.
  • Performance issues: Addiction can also cause a drop in work performance, such as missed deadlines or lower-quality results.
  • Problems with work relationships: The physical and emotional symptoms of addiction can strain work relationships by triggering fights with coworkers or other aggressive behavior.
  • Attendance problems: Workers with addiction may frequently call in late or take unexpected absences right after the weekend or a holiday.

How to Support an Employee or Coworker With an Addiction

The type of support that you can provide to a team member with an addiction will depend on your authority in your workplace. For example, you'll have different strategies at your disposal as a manager than a direct colleague. You can try approaches such as:

  • Recommending or establishing an employee assistance program (EAP): If your company has an EAP, consider referring the team member to their services. The EAP can provide the appropriate services and help them find a treatment provider if necessary. EAPs also help with disorders that have similar symptoms to addiction when you aren't sure about their condition. Employers who don't have an EAP for their business can consider establishing one that includes drug prevention initiatives.
  • Implementing a drug testing program: When used compassionately, drug testing programs can enable employees to get help with addiction. If you own your business, you can start a drug testing program to provide your team with more opportunities to pursue treatment.
  • Establishing peer-based prevention initiatives: As an employee, you can suggest and participate in peer-based prevention efforts. These initiatives might involve reviewing and revising policy or simpler actions like supporting community programs.

Residential Addiction Treatment at Diamond House Detox

If you work in Northern California, consider Diamond House Detox as a potential first step for your employee or coworker. We help our clients transition to recovery with evidence-based detox in a compassionate environment.

To learn more about our services, contact our team online or call us at 800-205-6107.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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