The “addict" stereotype often features the unemployed (or unemployable) person; however, many people around the United States are both gainfully employed and addicted to drugs or alcohol. According to the Department of Labor, nearly 75% of addicts are employed at least part-time. Manual labor industries like construction or shipping often have the highest rate of addiction among employees, although service providers to professionals such as doctors, lawyers, or teachers may be addicted.

As a coworker, you might wonder how to spot addiction in a fellow employee, as well as what resources are available for you. Although many of web resources are directed toward people whose co-workers are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, many other coworkers suffer from addictions to gambling and technology, which can also affect the workplace environment.

How Do I Know If A Coworker Is An Addict?

Coworkers who exhibit the following symptoms may be suffering from an addiction:

  • Frequently absent from or tardy for work
  • Misses appointments
  • Seems confused or cannot remember details
  • Has poor personal hygiene
  • Experiencea mood swings, anxiety, or depression

The Department of Justice suggests confronting co-workers who you believe have a drug problem. Often, showing concern and encouraging a coworker to seek help is more powerful than the please from the coworker's family. Although targeted toward those in the health care profession, most of the recommendations from the Department of Justice work well for any coworker.

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Should We, As Coworkers, Stage An Intervention?

One popular method of confronting addicts is the intervention. Interventions can be staged at the workplace and include other people who are important to the addict, such as friends, family, and the employer. Before the intervention, coworkers should plan the intervention. Important things to remember include:

  • Figure out how the addiction has hurt you as a coworker;
  • Determine what the consequences of addiction are for that employee; and
  • Work with family and friends, if that is an option.

Web Resources and Groups

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: The NIAAA provides information about the problems caused by alcohol abuse. This information can be presented to coworkers, or can help fellow employees learn about the problems that alcoholics encounter.

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: The NCADD presents much of the same information about alcoholism, but it also provides coworkers information about the dangers of drug use. The website contains both reference articles and other resource sites.

Alcoholics Anonymous: A 12-step, faith-based alcohol addiction program. Often meetings are held in churches or community centers.

Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters: A partner group to Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon provides a group setting for friends and family members of alcoholics to talk about their experiences.

Narcotics Anonymous : A twelve-step, faith-based program dedicated to serving those who are addicted to drugs other than alcohol. Much like AA meetings, these meetings are often held in churches and community centers.