What to Do When You Think an Employee is on Drugs

What to Do When You Think an Employee is on Drugs

Dealing with suspected drug use by employees is a tricky thing. On the one hand, you don’t want to make accusations you can’t prove, and on the other hand, you might need to step in out of safety concerns for the worker and other employees.

Many companies make it a policy not to say anything until there’s an accident on the job, which triggers a mandatory drug test. However, many managers understandably don’t want to wait until something goes wrong; maybe they oversee a hazardous work environment where one wrong move could be the difference between life and death.

If you think one of your employees is currently abusing drugs or you want to be prepared for that situation, please consider the following tips.


Know the signs

While trained professionals are the ones best left to diagnosing a chemical dependence, there are certain indications that, taken together, can suggest an issue with drug abuse.

Declining performance could be a sign of drug abuse, but it shouldn’t be the only indication. A sharp and distinct change in mood is a major sign of drug abuse. Depression or unusually high energy are also common mood indicators. A sudden change in appearance or personal presentation should also raise some suspicion, with slurred speech, drastic weight change and disheveled appearance all being big red flags.


Document everything

Picking up on indicators of possible drug use is just the first step. You’ll also have to be able to point to occasions when a worker’s performance was a little off to justify a confrontation.

Therefore, it’s essential for supervisors to take specific notes on a worker’s performance. When doing this, it’s important not to include suspicions in these notes. The whole reason for this documentation is to use it when confronting the worker, and maintaining objectivity is key to be able to do that effectively.


Consult a professional

After picking up on multiple signs and taking thorough notes, talk to a doctor or a substance abuse counselor to make certain you’re seeing the results of drug use. During this consultation, explore the potential course of action, including treatment options and best methods for success.


Confront the problem, not the person

The most effective way to approach the situation is to talk to the person out of concern, and not out of a desire to punish or fire the individual. Mention that you have observed a problem and have consulted with a substance abuse expert. Try to address the issue by pointing out specific performance- or appearance-related issues and saying that, above all, you want to help with whatever might be causing the behavior.

Lay out a plan for the person to seek treatment while keeping their job. If the worker doesn’t respond, you should proceed based on company disciplinary rules that are applied equally to all employees.

At NSC Technologies, we help companies achieve their goals through staffing solutions and managed services. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your organization.


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