How to Identify and Approach an Employee With Substance Abuse Issues

Invariably, it happens – more now than ever. Employers are having to be on the lookout for employees with substance abuse issues. Whether it be an alcohol, drug, or prescription pill addiction, the problems people face can cause a lot of chaos in the workplace. As business owners, you have a responsibility to your other workers and to the quality of the product you sell. Substance abuse can be detrimental to both. Below are some ways you can identify a possible instance and what you can do about it.

Identification Please

As a business owner, you probably aren’t on site, and can’t be on site, of every store or business you are in charge of. You must rely on the managers of each site. With this said, the first part of identifying an employee with a possible substance abuse problem is to have trust in those you have placed in authority. You need to take any reports you receive from fellow managers and examine each thoroughly. Some definite red flags to look for in each report are increased mood swings, often they will be irritable or angry ones, a drastic reduction in the quality of work, several missed days, and possible calls from family members.

How to Approach

Before I start here, let me make it clear that no matter the situation, make sure you are informed of all laws and regulations concerning this issue. A person with a substance abuse issue may be very defensive when approached as to try and intimidate you so that you will not attempt it again. It’s possible, depending on the situation that they may even be violent. So, if you have reached the decision that you most likely have an employee with a substance abuse problem, the next step is to bring them in for a talk. When you have your sit down meeting, be sure to have at least one witness and, unfortunately, it may be safe to have more on standby, should your employee become violent. (If this happens, you have no choice but to contact authorities right away for the safety of you and your employees.)

The Next Step

After all is said and done, you have a decision to make. Whether or not you decide to keep your employee will be dependant on several factors including what they are addicted to, how far into the addiction they are, how willing they are to seek help, and if it is possible for them to accomplish what their job entails while they are recovering. Many times, you will have to simply enforce the rules. Many businesses have a no tolerance policy for substance abuse. This decision is up to you as the owner.

Above all, we, just as humans, have a responsibility to help our fellow man get out of the pit. A business environment puts this situation in more light than most. Use this advantage to help the overall problem and follow the steps above to accomplish it.