In a 2011 survey, it was found that about 22.5 million Americans aged 12 and up abused drugs. This means that you probably know someone who abuses drugs – and that person could be your employee. You may suspect a person that works for you of taking drugs. However, how do you know it’s employee drug use for sure? What signs can help you determine that you aren’t just being paranoid or mean?
Signs of Employee Drug Use
- Dilated pupils
- Diminished job performance
- Sharp decline in productivity
- Constantly late or absent
- Asking for advances or to borrow money constantly
- Stealing company supplies
- Seems groggy or hung over at work
- Taking extra-long breaks with no explanation
- Leaving early for the day on a routine basis
- Becomes unaccountably argumentative or hostile
- Gets into accidents consistently
- Wears long-sleeves though they are physically warm
- Gets clammy or has cold sweats
- Seems exhausted or jittery
- Gets depressed or upset easily
- Slurred or overly rapid speech
- Heavy breathing
- Lingering smell of the drug
While all of the above can indicate employee drug use, some signs can also be indications of ill-health, upsets at home, etc.
What to Do
Unless you catch your employee or co-worker in the act of shooting up, popping pills, or drinking on the job, there is no way you can tell for sure they are taking drugs. Drug addicts are often secretive about their addiction, and if you don’t know your employee well, it may be hard for you to talk to them about your suspicions. You may feel like you aren’t really the right person for them to talk to. There are several things you can do as an employer to detect employee drug use and help the person who is using drugs or is addicted.
- Review your company policies.
It is likely that you have a company policy regarding drug use when it comes to employees. Review the policy and find out if there is information regarding the proper channels to help your employee.
- Document behavior.
A person can just have an off day, be physically ill, experience grief, or be regularly abusing drugs. Documenting your employee’s behavior will give you a list that could indicate drug abuse or something else.
- Discuss the matter with HR (Human Resources).
Your HR rep may already know about a medical condition that is causing your employee to act erratically, or may know about a recent divorce or death of a loved one that they are dealing with. If your HR rep has seen your documentation, and agrees that something is off, go to the next step.
- Meet with the employee.
Make sure to have a third party (like your HR rep or a company lawyer) at the meeting. Discuss what you have observed, listing specific instances and signs. Allow them to give you information about their behavior. Be sure to document the discussion.
- Request a drug test be done.
Most company policies state which type of drug tests are appropriate for your company, how random they are, etc. There are legal ramifications to drug testing without notification or without consent. Make sure you are informed of these ramifications before requiring your employee to take the test.
- NOTE: Do not let your employee drive themselves to the test. Make sure that, if the test is being done outside of your company premises, you provide transportation for this activity.
- Follow your company policies with regard to the results.
If they come up negative, be sure to inform the person and allow them to get on with their job. If they need help or correction on job performance, see if there is policy on the best way to help them. If the test results are positive, be sure to follow your company policy regarding this as well.
Company Drug Education and Other Solutions
As an employer, you can help educate your employees about drugs, employee drug use, and more. They may find this education personally helpful in making decisions about their own lives – or it may help them with their loved ones. Prevention is always the preferable way to solve the drug problem. If a person has already begun the spiral of addiction, Best Drug Rehabilitation can recommend a medical detox program to get users safely off drugs in as comfortable a manner as possible.
After the detox, both physical and mental therapy, educational steps, and an array of holistic remedies are provided to help former users return to their lives and succeed.