Workplace alcohol use can be a worrisome situation. A person who is under the influence of alcohol is not able to do his or her job in the way they should be. They may be putting other people at risk as a result. Every situation is different in terms of what you should do, but knowing what your options are can help you make the right decision for all involved.

It’s important to know that a person who is intoxicated is at risk to themselves and others. If this person gets in a vehicle to drive home, that puts everyone else on the roadway at risk. If they are operating machinery at work, they could cause an accident that injures another person. Other times, their actions may result in making poor decisions that impact the company.

Addressing the Immediate Need

If you have a co-worker using alcohol at work, it is important to take some action, whatever it is possible. Consider the risks to yourself, others in the position, and the individual themselves. If there is risk present, it may be best to approach a manager and inform them of what you know and why. They may decide not to take action, but at that point, you have done your job of informing the decision-maker.

In other situations, you may be tempted to confront the individual. Doing so may not help, especially if they are highly intoxicated. If this is your friend or someone you know, you may want to help them get home and not allow them to drive. It is not about getting them in trouble so much as protecting those involved from the results of intoxication.

Over the Long Term

Workplace substance use happens when a person is facing dependence. While some people may just drink too much and then come to work, for others, this is an addiction, a disease that does not improve without treatment and support. If you are noticing a pattern of drug use or intoxication over a period of time, it may be that your co-worker is dependent and needs treatment. What do you do then?

Know the signs of addiction in the workplace

A good starting point is to understand the signs of addiction. If you notice these, you may want to take action:

  • They drink in the morning or come in to work intoxicated.
  • They are drinking while on the job, sometimes hiding it.
  • Often, people do not think anyone else knows what they are doing. They think they are hiding it well.
  • There is a change in their overall performance on the job, such as turning projects in late or missing deadlines that they used to keep.
  • Their response and overall interaction with others on the job has changed. They no longer engage with others like they used to.

Often a person with an addiction does not want others to know, but they cannot avoid using these substances. The disease itself creates intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms if they fail to use. In short, even if they do not want to use at work, they cannot stop doing so on their own. 

If this is occurring, there are several things you may wish to do. First, you may want to confront them in a safe place, such as away from the workplace and with one or two other people who have noticed the same and have the individual’s best interests at heart. Talk to them about what you are noticing using only facts. Then, ask if they would like you to help them find treatment options.

You could try to ask family and friends. You may want to ask a level of management to help you, especially if your company offers drug and alcohol treatment programs. The key here is not to ignore their needs or the risks they present at the place of employment.

It’s important to know that you cannot force someone into treatment. You also may need to give them time to process what is occurring and what their options are. There is a strong belief that some individuals can stop using if they try hard enough, even if that is not the case. Unfortunately, it is up to them to make that decision.

Encourage Some to Get Help for Addiction

When addiction is present, a person may find it very hard to stop using on their own. Like any other disease, they need the proper treatment and care to get to that point. The good news is that treatment can be highly effective, and it can change the outcome of their life.

If you’re looking to help a co-worker and discuss options for treatment, give our admissions team a call at (866) 971-5531.

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