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Published On: March 8, 2018|Categories: Substance Abuse|

Addiction is a topic that comes with many different stereotypes and taboos, including expectations of what someone abusing substances is most likely to look like. But the truth is, anyone – regardless of race, gender or career – can become a victim of substance abuse.

While there are specific careers that are more susceptible to abuse, even coworkers in your corporate office building may struggle with substances. While it is not your responsibility to fix them, you can be better equipped to help them by knowing the signs of substance abuse.

What careers are susceptible to substance abuse?

There are specific fields of work that SAMSHA has researched that have shown greater percentages of usage among staff members. While these numbers in no way indicate that every person in this career field will develop a substance use disorder (SUD), it is important to be aware of this, especially if you notice signs of substance abuse in a coworker.

Jobs where substance abuse is more prominent, according to SAMHSA’s survey, include:

  • Mining
  • Accommodations and food services
  • Construction
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation
  • Management
  • Utilities
  • Information

Again, just because a person works in this field does not mean they are going to develop an SUD. Many individuals successfully navigate through these careers without developing any disorder. However, these statistics are essential to keep in mind in order to better boost preventative strategies in these career fields in particular.

Signs of substance abuse

A key component of substance abuse prevention is knowing what to look for. How are you supposed to address a substance use disorder if you don’t even know what the signs are?

Frequent tardiness

One of the main signs a coworker might display is constantly being late for work or missing work entirely. While you shouldn’t be bothered by infrequent or explainable tardiness or absences, it should raise more concern when missing work or showing up late becomes routine, is not backed by sound reasons or is left unexplained entirely.

Lack of hygiene

An employee or coworker struggling with substance abuse might also not practice the same level of personal care; you may notice them coming in with wrinkled clothes, having poor hygiene or looking tired all the time.

Failing to meet deadlines

A third indication of potential abuse is work performance and quality that slowly (or suddenly) decreases. Someone struggling with substance abuse will not be focused on their work as much as they will be focused on the demands of addiction. Especially when noticed in conjunction with other signs of an SUD, this can be a significant indication that something is not right in someone’s home life.

Uncharacteristically withdrawn

Employees and coworkers who were once open about their lives and have suddenly shut down emotionally, mentally and verbally might also be struggling with addiction; the same is true of anyone who displays such physical indications as:

  • Falling asleep at work
  • A sudden and inexplicable loss of or increase in weight
  • Random, sudden bursts of energy
  • Shifts in mood, including uncharacteristic anger, irritability or shortness

Again, the mild or temporary existence of the above indications is not always cause for alarm. Over time, you get a sense of someone’s natural personality, habits and performance, so always trust your gut if you feel something might be off.

So, if there is a substance problem, how can you help a struggling coworker or employee?

How to help a struggling coworker

One of the best things coworkers and employers alike can do to help employees struggling with substance abuse is to encourage them to seek treatment, but then let them get back to work. Establishing and adhering to a routine – such as those offered through work – is essential for reintegrating healthy structure back into one’s life.

Employers should sit down with troubled employees to create a legal agreement that outlines what is expected upon the individual’s return and the consequences of failing to meet that agreement. Many organizations offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) specifically for situations like this, and employees can be referred for help at no cost.

As for other employees who are aware of the abuse, they should act as sources of support for the returning or struggling individual, doing their best to remain discreet and respectful of that person’s privacy in the process. Both coworkers and employers should also make sure the employee in question does not become obsessed with work, something that can actually hinder the recovery process.

Where can I refer my coworker/employee?

Whether you are seeking a treatment center to refer your coworker or employee to, or are looking for a counseling service for yourself, High Focus Centers is here to help.

To learn more about our counseling program and addiction treatment services, reach out to High Focus Centers by calling our offices at 800-877-3628 to get in touch with someone today.

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