Has your coworker been acting strangely lately? Are you willing to ask? In some professional settings, people may feel uncomfortable asking their coworkers about personal struggles. That doesn’t mean, however, that the problems aren’t there. For example, a 2013 study done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 68.9% of the estimated 22 million illicit drug users are fully or part-time employed. It was also found that 79.3% of binge drinkers were also employed. Could your coworker be one of them? What are the signs someone needs addiction treatment?
Signs of Addiction #1: Fatigue
Have you noticed that your coworker has been acting tired and sluggish? Of course we all have long nights and everyone’s allowed an off day, but if your coworker is always coming into the office complaining about how tired they are, it could be a sign of substance abuse. When an individual uses alcohol or drugs over long periods of time, the mind has difficulty going into the REM cycle while sleeping, meaning they will be feeling major fatigue — and that’s when they actually do get sleep instead of partying all night. You might even find a coworker asleep at their desk — a sure sign that something’s going on.
Signs of Addiction #2: Apathy
Has your coworker been missing deadlines or performing poorly? Maybe they’re making frequent mistakes, or missing important meetings. There are many reasons why work performance may slip, but if it’s in conjunction with these other signs, there’s a good chance they may need addiction treatment to get their life back on track. Read on to learn the other signs of a coworker who may be struggling with substance abuse.
Signs of Addiction #3: Mood Swings
Pretty much all of us have had a bad day at work. Extreme mood swings, however, are a huge sign that illicit substances could be involved. Long-term abuse of drugs and alcohol can alter an individual’s brain chemistry. That alone can cause mood swings, but it also can cause withdrawals. When an addict or alcoholic doesn’t get their “fix,” they can begin to get agitated or angry. Not sure how to tell if someone’s a high-functioning alcoholic or addict? Give us a call and we’ll share some more signs you can look out for.
Signs of Addiction #4: Frequent Bathroom Breaks
Another sign your coworker could be struggling with addiction or even using on the job is if they take frequent bathroom breaks. It’s possible they use their trips to the bathroom to use drugs or alcohol. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m pretty sure someone would notice if they were using or drinking in the bathroom.” In reality, addicts have very clever ways to hide their substances — because they depend on them to function. You may even notice that after your coworker comes back from their bathroom break, they all of a sudden seem to be feeling great! The truth is that these ups and downs are actually a sign that they’re trapped in their own addiction, which could be life-threatening.
Signs of Addiction #5: Hygiene & Physical Changes
Changes in appearance or physical well-being can also be tied to addiction. Drug and alcohol abuse seriously affects internal functions of a body, which in turn shows directly on someone's physical appearance. You will start to notice dark circles under the eyes or swelling of the face. Some drug users pick at their skin, causing sores. Alcoholics can get puffy and gain weight easily. Cocaine addicts may be sniffling all day long, and blaming it on their allergies even in the middle of winter. Intravenous drug users may have bruises and sores on their inner arms.
In addition, you might notice that your coworker is less groomed or doesn’t care to fix themselves up for work. They’re not wearing makeup anymore, or their clothes are dirty. This lack of interest in personal hygiene can be a tell-tale sign that they’re struggling with addiction.
You may notice some other physical signs of drug or alcohol abuse such as shakes, tremors, dilated pupils, or sudden weight fluctuations.
Take notice of these signs, and try not to gloss over them as most people would in a work environment. Maybe you wouldn’t typically ask a coworker about personal or out of the office struggles, but when drinking and drug habits begin to make their way into the workplace it’s a problem for everyone involved. Your coworker may be in denial that they are an addict or alcoholic, and your concern could be the last straw they need to seek residential addiction treatment.
When you approach your coworker about their signs of substance abuse, remember that something else could be going on. Keep the conversation general from the start. If they do admit to substance abuse issues, don’t just criticize them. Take the opportunity to give them a solution! It’s always helpful to encourage an addict or alcoholic to get the addiction treatment they deserve. Substance abuse is a serious disease that needs to be treated professionally. Your addicted coworker might even want to take time off from work to heal themselves with a residential addiction treatment program. Be prepared for pushback and even anger, but know that reaching out to someone in true love and concern is always welcomed — even if it doesn’t seem like that at first.
What is Addiction Recovery?
At Acqua Recovery, our Masters-level clinicians use a trauma-informed approach to address not only your coworker’s addiction, but the mental health issues tied to years of trauma that may be fueling it.
If you see signs of a coworker or friend struggling with addiction, don’t let them battle it alone. For more information on how to approach your coworker about their addiction, reach out to us today! Our caring admissions team, Matt, Brain, and Ashlee, can answer any questions you might have and even provide you with information to give to your coworker. Help them take the first step to their healing today and give us a call.