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Suspecting a Co-Worker of Substance Abuse

Tags:  Difficult co-worker, Substance abuse, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse

You suspect that one of your co-workers may have a drug or alcohol problem, but you're not sure. What do you do?


It's really not your place to diagnose another employee, especially since depression and other serious conditions can cause similar symptoms. Instead, if you believe one of your coworkers has a substance abuse problem, you should consider discussing the matter with your supervisor. It is up to her to determine what course of action to take from there.


If you find yourself in a position where you think a co-worker may have a substance abuse problem, follow these Guideposts:

1. Scenario one

It's nearly impossible to know exactly what is going on with another person, and you don't want to jump to the wrong conclusion. Before making any snap judgments and creating a situation that doesn't exist, you need to be more than certain there is a problem.


This co-worker may really have eaten something that didn't agree with her or perhaps another medical condition such as pregnancy has her stomach upset. You need to be certain that her actions warrant intervention.   By asking questions that show that you are genuinely interested in your co-worker's present condition, you also show empathy.

You may not be responded to in the same manner, so be prepared for any answer you may receive.

2. Scenario two

Workplace stress and pressures from home can make any one of us have a short fuse. When a co-worker over reacts or is easy to anger it doesn't automatically point at a substance abuse problem.


Taken in context with the first situation, you may see a pattern forming. But before you run to your supervisor with your evidence, you should be certain there really is an issue.

3. Scenario three
Bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol or marijuana, and the decline in physical appearance along with erratic behavior, mood swings, and excessive tardiness

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