Trouble at work or with the law may be one of the first signs that someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD). However, signs of an alcoholic employee may not be clearly visible. Often, people who abuse addictive substances create elaborate stories to hide their behavior. With this in mind, knowing what to look out for can be the key to getting them the help they need.
In this piece, we’ll look at some of the earliest ways addiction can make itself known — at work and in the legal system. We’ll also discuss tips to address these issues in the most supportive way possible.
How Does Addiction Affect a Person’s Life?
In your mind, it’s easy to assume that you know the signs of an alcoholic employee or how to spot the symptoms of drug use in someone close to you. In reality, it’s usually not as obvious as you might think. People who abuse drugs and alcohol are typically experienced in hiding it from those around them. It may only be apparent in subtle ways.
Two of the most common behavioral signs of drug abuse are:
- An increase in legal issues
- A sudden drop in dependability or attendance at work
Signs of an Alcoholic Employee: How Do They Show?
What does it look like when a coworker is showing signs of drug use? Here are a few of the most common signs of drug use at work:
- There’s a Change in Their Performance. This is more common with reliable employees who have had their job for long enough to establish a record of performance. When they start abusing drugs, they may start making more mistakes, take longer to complete tasks or exhibit trouble focusing on the task at hand. They may also suddenly seem disinterested in their work or start to neglect their job-related responsibilities.
- They’re Frequently Late or Call in Sick. Work absenteeism is also a sign of drug abuse. The effects of drugs and alcohol can be long-lasting, meaning that a user may have to make the choice between coming to work impaired and calling in sick. The former is much easier to detect, while the reason behind missing work or frequently showing up late can be more difficult to pin down.
- They Seem to Have a Personality Shift. Drug use can bring on dramatic changes in mood and personality, meaning that the person in question will not likely be able to hide it completely. They may suddenly start acting more irritable, paranoid, or erratic, with seemingly no explanation why.
Can You Be Fired for Abusing Drugs or Alcohol?
This is a question many employers ask when they start to notice signs of drug abuse. For example, if a boss starts to notice signs of an alcoholic employee, their first instinct may be to terminate them. After all, if a person comes to work while impaired, they may be a danger to themselves or those around them. Or, they may harm the business if they do their job poorly as a result of their drug use.
This is one of the reasons why it’s so important for workers to get help as soon as possible, before they jeopardize their employment status. Many people think that going to rehab while keeping a job is impossible. Actually, there are laws in effect aimed at helping you keep your job while seeking treatment. Addiction is a disease, and it should be treated the same as any other chronic illnesses when a person is actively looking for help.
What Legal Issues Can Be Linked to Drug Abuse?
Similarly, there are numerous examples of legal issues that tend to crop up when a person abuses drugs or alcohol. If a person close to you has their driver’s license revoked under mysterious circumstances or suddenly has to attend court appearances, an SUD may be responsible. Here are some common criminal charges associated with using and abusing addictive substances.
Charges Associated with Alcohol Abuse
There are a number of crimes associated with alcohol consumption in many parts of the country:
- DUI/DWI or “drunk driving”
- Public intoxication/disorderly conduct
- Open container
- MIP or minor in possession of alcohol
Further, if a parent is intoxicated around their children, they may face domestic charges for neglect or endangerment.
Charges Associated with Drug Abuse
There are also numerous crimes that people who abuse illegal drugs might face:
- DUI/DWI or “high driving”
- Drug possession with or without intent to distribute
In order to financially sustain their drug habit, users may also find themselves facing charges related to theft and/or robbery.
Like with issues at work, a person who is facing frequent legal issues as a result of drug abuse needs to get help as quickly as possible. Studies show that people who are arrested for drug-related offences are more likely to re-offend than those who get treatment early.
Do You Suspect Someone Close to You is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol?
If you notice any of these changes in behavior in a friend, loved one, or coworker, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. This is especially true with coworkers or employees — people whose personal lives you’re not involved in. They may have valid reasons for the sudden changes.
If you make an accusation based on minimal evidence, you risk jeopardizing your relationship. Even if their excuses are unbelievable, they may be defensive at the implication that the change in their behavior or job performance is outwardly noticeable.
As a friend or colleague, often the best thing you can do is to show support. Let them know that whatever they’re going through, you’re here for them. Make sure you communicate in a non-judgmental way and help them understand that you’re worried about them.
Access to Addiction Treatment
While it’s not always easy for a person abusing drugs to ask for help and get it, we at FHE Health make our treatment programs as accessible as possible, so that anyone who needs help has fewer barriers to access it.
The signs of an alcoholic employee or drug user in your life may not be obvious, but your support can go a long way towards helping their recovery. If you notice that someone around you is showing some these behavioral signs and symptoms of drug use, let them know that they’re not alone. Contact FHE Health today. Our addiction treatment experts are standing by to provide a range of options for anyone who needs help.