3 Signs of Addiction to Look for in the Workplace

Nothing can be more difficult in the workplace than when you suspect a colleague is having personal issues that begin to affect his/her professional performance.  Sometimes, time is all is needed for issues to clear themselves up, but what if you’re worried that an employee or coworker needs some help, perhaps with an addiction addiction?  Here are 3 signs to look out for — if you spot any of them, it’s time for you to take action and address the issue, immediately.

1. When there is a major shift in neglecting responsibilities.

People can be occupied or distracted with personal issues and let things slip through the cracks – when you know something is up, a bit of compassion and acknowledgement is always a good course.  But if you notice an employee who is regularly late now is missing half days, or the manager that never misses a bit seems to not even care about urgent deadlines and deliverables, trust your instincts and address the issue in a healthy way.  Usually these major shifts are fairly obvious, but we often do not want to believe them to be true, so we brush aside those gut feelings; if you really think something is wrong, it probably is.

2. When there is a change in emotional response and behavior.

Everyone has their own emotional personality in the office – these range from hot headed managers to introverted analysts.  Have you noticed the generally fiery personality looking a bit downtrodden?  Worried what’s wrong with the shy coworker who keeps lashing out at other colleagues – or worse, clients – a little too often?  Then you need to investigate.

Be careful with confrontation, as this might make things worse, so be sure to talk to a human resources representative and/or your own manager to get some extra support, as either of them may actually ask you to let them take it into their own hands.

3. When legal issues begin to arise.

If you suspect an addiction problem and a legal line has been crossed – disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, and stealing being three of the most common issues – it is time to intervene, because your coworker has now moved past a point of self-control.  It may be time to look into various recovery programs for such behavior. Legal issues like these may also threaten your colleague’s employment, so it is your responsibility to make sure your manager knows something is wrong if they don’t already.  It is also important to be mindful of the gravity of the situation if it has gotten to this point.

One good piece of advice: when you think you may have an addiction problem in the workplace, remember the phrase you see in subways and in airports: if you see something, say something.  It might feel awkward and you might think you’re crossing a line, but it’s worth it if your colleague’s life is possibly in jeopardy.

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