Addiction is a progressively destructive ailment that can reduce productivity even in the most controlled work environments. Therefore, you must do everything in your power to overcome addiction at work. Not just for the benefit of your office, but the benefit of the addict and other co-workers in your office. As you probably know, helping a co-worker get the help that he or she needs, is not the easiest task. In most cases, people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction are in denial about their problems, and as such, you may have a hard time getting them to engage in a treatment plan.

It takes diplomacy and patience to broach the subject of addiction with a co-worker. They may react defensively or even scoff at the suggestion that his/her drinking behavior has spiraled out of control. But you shouldn’t let that discourage you. Think about your relationship with the co-worker and the detrimental impact the drug or alcohol addiction will have on his/her productivity at work and life. If you don’t get help for this person, the issues will get worse and your colleague’s well-being will be greatly affected.

Why you should get help for a coworker struggling with addiction

Alcoholism and drug addiction are becoming an area of concern in many offices across the globe. The need to get help for co-workers struggling with addiction has become progressively important. You should take the bold step of getting help for your colleague, because he/she may feel exposed and vulnerable getting help for him/herself. First, there is the fear of losing his/her job, and then, there is the fear of being stigmatized by other employees because of the addiction. Put together, these fears can discourage the addict from seeking the help that he or she needs. We understand the fragility of the situation and we can help you find the right treatment plan for your colleague.

Common symptoms of alcoholism at work

Before broaching the subject of addiction with your colleague, you must be sure that the problem exists. Call us for help if your colleague displays any of these signs.

  • Increased absence and reduced productivity
  • Bloodshot eyes and incessant handovers
  • Frequent emotional outbursts, anger, and paranoia
  • Dishonesty and secrecy
  • Covering up evidence of substance abuse
  • Depression and increased negativity
  • Shows withdrawal symptoms such as shakes, irritation, and perspiration
  • Dilated pupils
  • unexplained weight gains or loss
  • Deteriorated appearance
  • Cloth, body, and breath stinks
  • Restlessness, slurred speech, and/or tremors

Common signs of drug abuse

  • Increased absence at work
  • Secretive and suspicious conduct at work
  • Increased borrowing and debts

Psychological indications of drug addiction 

  • Frequent emotional outbursts and mood swings
  • Lethargy, sluggishness, and demotivation
  • A drastic change in conduct and personality
  • Periodic giddiness, agitation, and hyperactivity
  • Paranoia, anxiety, and fear

A Diplomatic approach to getting help for an alcoholic co-worker

You must look at the bigger picture when broaching the subject of addiction with your colleague. Because things can get out of hand pretty quickly if you are not diplomatic about your approach. The following tactics may help you get a better reaction when broaching the subject of addiction with your friend or co-worker.

  • Intervention: Getting a well-structured intervention for your colleague can help him/her see the wide-ranging impact his/her addiction is having on workflow. It can also help motivate the individual to find help.
  • Strategic wording: As opposed to using words that carry a heavy stigma when broaching the subject of addiction with your friend, you should be strategic with your wordings. Use non-judgmental and care-fostering words instead.
  • Leverage: It may be a good idea to leverage your colleague’s employment against him or her getting help. Harsh, but it can jolt your colleague to find help.

Because of the diplomacy and delicacy of the situation, we recommend that you don’t get too involved in the recovery process. Yours is to provide support; not to guide the addict through the recovery process. The goal here is to help your colleague realize that he or she needs help and to provide your support if the person engages in a treatment plan. Point your colleague in the direction of professional help, and leave us to handle the rest.

Addressing Alcoholism at work 

Alcohol addiction and consumption are disadvantageous to the wellbeing of the alcoholic, other employees, and the company itself. An individual whose actions and decisions are influenced by alcohol can put the health and safety of the office at risk. Therefore, you must address the problem before it festers or spirals out of control. Alcoholism has become progressively common amongst office workers owing to the heavy responsibilities and stress experienced by employees. Hence, the importance of organizing frequent health conferences at your workplace.

On the other hand, putting preventive methods in place may not curb alcoholism entirely in your office. Addictive behaviors should be dealt with immediately when they arise in your office. Recognizing addiction early can have a lot of advantages, as it allows you to manage the problem before it festers. Alcoholism is a resolvable problem that can happen to anyone, and as such, employees shouldn’t be dismissed on account of alcoholism. As opposed to letting the employee go because of his/her addictive behavior, you should encourage him or her to get help.

Alcoholism can reduce employees’ productivity at work, and left unchecked can expose your work to diverse accidents. To avoid such drastic occurrences at your workplace, we recommend creating alcohol employee policies to curb the behavior. You can also go a step further to make random alcohol testing your company’s culture.

Random Alcohol testing; how it works 

Random alcohol testing is a common practice in the UK. However, it must be done under human rights laws. In other words, it must not infringe on the privacy of the employees. There are three common methods for alcohol testing, namely; oral, urine, and hair testing. Hair testing is the most effective and most intrusive of the three methods, and it takes a longer time to achieve compared to urine and oral testing. If you are worried about your employees’ productivity at work, you can use any of these testing methods to address alcoholism in your office.


Dismissal should be a last resort when dealing with a struggling employee or co-worker. Call us today and have a confidential discussion about your colleague’s addiction.


Article Name
Co-worker with Addiction Problem
Addiction is a progressively destructive ailment that can reduce productivity even in the most controlled work environments.
Publisher Name
The Recovery Trust