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Addiction in the Workplace: Signs and Symptoms

Jun 5, 2022

The effects of addiction in the workplace can be devastating to employees, their families, and businesses. For example, substance use disorders can lead to decreased productivity, increased absences, thefts, and even accidents in the workplace. In this blog post, we will discuss how to recognize when a coworker may be struggling with a substance use disorder and ways you may be able to help.

Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain. It can lead to compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. For example, when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, their body becomes dependent on the substance. This means that they need the drug or alcohol to feel normal or prevent them from going into withdrawal, potentially causing them to be unable to make it through the workday without using that substance. Regardless of age, gender, or race, the disease of addiction can affect anyone, and it does not discriminate based on employment status, rank, or position.

Signs of Addiction in the Workplace

Several signs can indicate someone is struggling with a substance use disorder in the workplace. Some common symptoms include:

  • Frequent absences from work
  • Declining productivity
  • Erratic behavior or mood swings
  • Physical symptoms such as red eyes, slurred speech, or staggering
  • Stealing or borrowing money from coworkers
  • Secretive behavior

Any of these signs in a coworker should be taken seriously.

What to Do if You Suspect a Coworker is Struggling with Addiction in the Workplace

Here are a few things you can do if you suspect someone at work is struggling with a substance use disorder:

  • Talk to the person. You may want to discuss your concerns with the individual if you have a positive relationship with them. They may be willing to get help if they know that their behavior is causing problems. Encourage them to reach out to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if your workplace has one.
  • Contact HR or management. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the person or they are not receptive to help, you can contact HR or management. They may be able to provide resources or assistance in getting the individual the help they need.
  • Call an alcohol and drug addiction hotline or trusted facility. If you feel like the situation is serious and don’t know what to do, you can call for help. They will be able to provide you with resources and guidance on how to handle the situation. At Origins, even if we are not the right fit for you or your loved one, we are here to guide you in the right direction.

If you suspect that someone is struggling with addiction in the workplace, it is important to take action. Taking these steps can help ensure the safety of other employees, the business, and the struggling individual.

There is a well-known stigma attached to addiction and substance use disorders.

Unfortunately, this often prevents people from seeking the help they need, especially at the professional level. The fact is, addiction is a disease that should be treated with care and compassion. That’s why it’s important for employees, supervisors, and employers to know what to do if they suspect a coworker may need help.



Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration.

We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.

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