We spend more time with our colleagues than we do most people. From 9am to 5pm, five times a week. We see most of them as more than just colleagues, but as friends too. Yet still we often don’t know of things they may be going through at home.
Addiction is becoming a real problem for millions of people worldwide, especially in big cities and in industries where stress is at its highest. At Sanctuary Lodge, one of the best alcohol and drug rehabilitation centres in Essex, dozens of people are checking in due to substance abuse as a result of high pressure jobs in London, and the worst thing is, it can affect absolutely anyone.
We’d hate to not be aware our colleagues were suffering, but what exactly are the signs they might be?
There are certain things you can spot that may suggest someone is going through addiction, and if you begin to spot them, it could be time to reach out to them and see if they need help…
Of course, a first sign that something may be wrong will come in the form of absenteeism. While you should never want to really pry into why someone has been off work, if it continues to happen, there’s no harm in reaching out and asking if they’re ok.
It may not be related to addiction, while they may not wish to talk about it either. But in terms of spotting something is wrong, it’s a clear indicator.
Mood swings and changes in behaviour
A clearer sign of addiction will come in the form of mood swings and out of character behaviour. This is a common trait among those addicted to substances, and you’ll find their irritability, aggression and just general swings in mood become heightened.
If you notice this is happening for no real reason, then it could well be that they’re struggling, and it could be worth addressing. Although that should be done with caution.
They may isolate themselves from the rest of the workplace
People struggling with addiction often isolate themselves from the rest of the group. In some cases it’s due to them prioritising substances over them. So, for example, they might not go for a coffee after work as they usually would, while in other cases it’s to try and hide their addiction.
That may be because they are using substances at work and don’t want to be caught under the influence, which essentially would be grounds for dismissal if a business didn’t support them.
They talk about certain worries more
If you have a good relationship with the colleague in question, they may open up a little more about certain worries. For example, addiction can often cause financial issues as it can be costly regularly purchasing substances. Substances they think they need.
If someone you believed to be financially stable starts discussing financial worries, or you notice them borrowing money, there is clearly something problematic going on.
Equally, if someone is regularly talking about alcohol, then chances are they have an unhealthy relationship with it.
You’ll see a change in how they look
Those suffering from some form of substance addiction, whether that be alcohol or drugs, will begin to look different. Firstly, it’ll change their physical appearance. So their hair may start to appear more brittle and lifeless, while skill will appear duller.
Weight loss or gain can also be an indicator, as will things like bloodshot eyes. You’ll also find that overall personal hygiene and appearance generally starts to slip, wearing the same clothes or looking unkempt. It becomes less of a priority, with full focus being on their addiction.
It’s not nice to see someone going through such struggles, and it really can happen to anyone, so it’s important that if you do start to spot the signs, you deal with it in an understanding and supportive way so they get the help they need to get their lives back on track.