Posted in Drug Addiction on December 29, 2017
Last modified on May 11th, 2019

Signs of Drug Abusers at Work

No matter where you work, sharing your workplace with someone who shows signs of being a drug user can be distressing and worrisome. Whether it’s your co-worker, assistant or boss who shows these signs of addiction, it can disrupt your day, create inefficiencies, and lead to real problems—fiscal, interpersonal and even emotional. But how do you know what those signs of being a drug user are?

The signs of a drug user include changes in work performance:

  • Calling in sick, especially on Mondays and/or Fridays
  • Careless errors in the work he or she produces
  • Change in attitude or morale–apathetic or negative attitude toward the work and/or the employer
  • Resentments and complaints about aspects of the work itself or the workplace that he or she never complained about before

You may also notice the following behavioral or personality changes:

  • Irritability
  • A change in habits, such as taking longer lunches, or going out to lunch if he or she always used to eat at his or her desk
  • Secretive behavior, such as making phone calls from odd places or overreacting to perceived threats to his or her privacy
  • A change in social circle, new friends, or withdrawing and isolating behavior

Depending upon the drug, you may notice physical signs of a drug user:

  • Needle marks or wearing long sleeves to hide these marks
  • Sunglasses worn at odd times or indoors to hide bloodshot eyes or abnormal pupils
  • Sudden change in grooming or personal appearance, usually for the worse (messy or dirty clothes, less care taken with appearance overall, etc.)
  • Coughing, sniffling or runny nose
  • Frequent colds or other illnesses—a sudden change in overall health and poor resistance to common illnesses

Again, depending upon the drug, you may see signs of drug paraphernalia (pipes, rolling papers, needles, spoons, etc.) around the workplace.

Drug use in the workplace can be dangerous, is likely illegal and places co-workers or others at risk. If you see signs of drug use, discuss your concerns with your employee assistance counselor or human resources administrator. Taking these steps could help someone you work with get the treatment they need.



Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder) – Mayo Clinic

Signs of Drug Addiction – WebMD

Drug Use Indicators – OHS Health & Safety Services, Inc.

Editorial Staff

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