How to Help Employees Avoid Addiction

Work is hard – and especially as the boss, you recognize that. It can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression which can lead to other issues such as substance abuse.

In a previous article, we discussed how to help an employee who is struggling with addiction – through talking it through with them and offering help.

But, what about if you could help them steer clear of that addiction in the first place?

Sometimes, you might even be lucky enough to catch them on the brink of a break down and you might just be able to step in and help stop it.

Here’s how you can help an employee cope with stress and anxiety, possibly helping them avoid addiction:

  1. Talk to your employees about addiction.Maybe at your quarterly meeting or if you do some type of weekly check-in as a group just to see how everything is going, bring up the topic of addiction.Addiction is a thing that lurks in the dark – but, by bringing it to light, we can help destroy it. So, bring up how the pressure of work can sometimes be too much for us – even for you. Also mention how that can put people at risk for addiction, but that there are ways to cope with stress and anxiety that are healthy.This helps everyone feel like they can be open about it and lets those struggling know they aren’t alone.
  2. Offer stress-relievers at the office.A lot of times, people get stressed and just simply don’t know what to do to get past it. They are unable to come up with stress-relieving activities or ways to cope with the stress of work.But, you can easily provide safe and healthy options for coping with stress in the office place. Try things like:Encouraging everyone to take a 10-minute walk outside if they are feeling stressed (without clocking out), provide stress-relief balls in the break room for people to borrow in their office, try bringing an office pet around once a week to help lighten the mood.As the boss, you have the power to change things to help make it a better and less stressful workplace.
  3. Offer information on where to get help.It could be something as simple as a poster, but just giving easy access to resources for help could help save someone. They might still feel extremely stressed and need an outlet, so they might just follow the advice of that poster you put up and seek a therapist.

We can all do our part to help those around us.


Signs You Are an Enabler

So, maybe you are lucky enough to not be on the addicted side of things…

But, do you know someone who suffers from addiction? It could be a close friend, family member, or even a long-time co-worker.

Addiction affects everyone involved – those suffering from addiction and those who are around the addict. It can be depressing, exhausting, and stressful. You might find yourself feeling hopeless like there is just nothing that you can do.

But, in the midst of all of the emotions, the one thing you don’t want to find yourself doing is enabling the person’s addiction.

While this might sound like such an obvious thing and something that would be so simple, it is much easier said than done. Unfortunately, you might even be enabling someone without even knowing it.

What is an enabler?

Well, it is just as it sounds – someone who enables the individual, specifically with addiction it means you are enabling them to continue their addiction.

Enabling takes place in many shapes, forms, and sizes. So, this is why it is important that you can easily recognize the signs of enabling someone.

Look in the mirror and see if you notice these warning signs that you are an enabler:

Signs of Enabling

  1. You willfully ignore the addiction.We get it, sometimes you might think that it isn’t your problem, so if you just ignore it, surely it will go away, right?But, just ignoring that there is a problem is leaving a major elephant in the room and therefore, you are enabling that elephant to keep growing.Addiction most often happens in secret, so the more you ignore it, the worse it gets.
  2. You find yourself acting out of fear.An enabler most often experiences fear – as opposed to several other emotions. It might be a fear they are losing their child to addiction or fear of their child’s behavior.While this is natural, it is the actions that are a result of the fear that is dangerous…A fearful parent might keep cleaning up their child’s mess: they might keep bailing them out of jail, paying their bills when they lost their job or other various acts.
  3. You are projecting blame.While their friends might have introduced them to drugs, it ultimately is not their friend’s fault. But, an enabler might blame the issue on their friends, life experiences and the like. Instead, you should be encouraging the addict to take responsibility for their own actions.

How to Help an Employee With Their Addiction

As employers, we don’t want to see any of our employees suffering – from anything for that matter. And, we definitely don’t want to be faced with drug or alcohol issues in the workplace. However, the fact of life is that it could happen at some point and it most likely will…

There is a huge majority of people suffering from addiction, so the likelihood that it will be someone you know is great. Full-time jobs are stressful – they cause people to experience great levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. And, these instances can lead to people struggling with substance abuse as they are looking for a way to cope with their emotions.

While as their employer, you might be unsure if you should get involved, if you notice an issue – you might help. Here are a few ways to help an employee in your office who is struggling with addiction:

  1. Know what signs to look for that indicate there might be a problem.
    There are several signs that could easily indicate something bad might be going on:Are they taking a lot of sick days? Do they have reoccurring unplanned “emergencies”? Are they missing deadlines?Frequently being absent or tardy and slacking in their work could be a sign of addiction. In addition, avoiding people, change in their laughter, and physical symptoms such as bloodshot eyes could also be an indicator something is wrong.
  2. Be proactive and address the problem with them in private. 
    Of course, it is never appropriate to call your employee out on the spot. But, you could ask to have a quick one-on-one meeting with them to just check in and see if everything is okay.Their remains this stigma that everyone will just look down on those with addiction rather than helping them, but you could offer that help they need.
  3. Be cautious when talking to them. Rather than speaking to them in an employer to employee tone, try to make the conversation more friendly. The idea is to not appear as taking part in the stigma that surrounds addiction. Show your genuine sense of care for their well-being.
  4. Refer them to help.Rather you personally know someone who has had an addiction so you already have knowledge regarding help or you just have the resources to locate help – do what you can to get them to the help they need.Who knows, they might just need that little push from you to be on their way to a better life.

Wouldn’t you want your employer to do the same for you if the roles were reversed?