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The 5 Most Dangerous Threats Lurking at Work! #5 - Opioid Addiction

Updated: Jan 29



#5 This threat is a very sad and sometimes deadly situation. You may have employees who are dealing with opioid addiction. For the future of your business and for their future, you cannot ignore what you see or know.


We have all heard the horrific facts about the opioid epidemic – people addicted to prescription pain relievers or the cheapest form of pain relief - heroin. The CDC reports that on average 130 people are dying from opioid overdoses every day.


Not wanting to intrude into someone’s life and HIPAA laws can make it rather difficult to confront someone – so what should you do? Be on the look-out for evidence of mood swings or major changes in energy levels. Another big indicator is nodding off or falling asleep at work. Have there been major changes in personality, e.g. was very out-going and now very withdrawn?


When you see these types of behaviors, ask the employee how he is doing. Explain that you’ve noticed he doesn’t seem to be himself lately. Let him know you care about him. Check with your various insurance providers to see what type of assistance is available. If he shares his situation with you, encourage him to seek treatment. If he doesn’t open up to you, remind him of the various programs available, should he ever feel he needs some information or help. If you have an Employee Assistance Program, encourage the employee to reach out to them.


When the employee starts to have performance issues, you must address those issues. Provide coaching and work with him to determine what is causing the performance issue. If the performance is not improving or continues to decline, utilize your progressive disciplinary process. Before you would terminate the employee, confer with your Human Resources professional to ensure there are no employment laws that needs to be taken into consideration, i.e. Americans with Disabilities Act, FMLA, etc.


The problem with not doing something, are the real threats an employee with an addiction brings to work. They put themselves and their co-workers at risk of injury and there is the threat of theft to support their habit. The worst threat is to that addicted employee, an accidental overdose.


If you're dealing with an employee alcohol or drug abuse problem, get my free, Guidelines for Suspected Alcohol or Drug Abuse at Work.

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