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Talking about alcohol and drugs in the workplace

What employers can do

Alcoholism and other drug addictions are chronic and potentially fatal diseases if not treated. Employers who notice an employee having difficulty on the job may want to assess whether alcohol or drug use is affecting this person's productivity. If this is the case, here are some steps you can take to begin a discussion about alcohol and drugs in the workplace.

Talking about alcohol and drugs in the workplace.

What co-workers can do

Alcoholism and drug dependency are treatable chronic diseases that know no hierarchy. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 20 million Americans, or 11.3 percent of the population, are affected.

When a colleague shows signs of abusing alcohol or drugs, it can be difficult to know what to do or say. But, if a co-worker's alcohol or drug use affects either your work or his or her health, it's important you try to help. In fact, this may be the time your colleague needs you most.

Following are some suggestions developed by Hazelden counselors to help you broach the subject with your colleague.

Make use of company resources to help you assist your co-worker, especially if he or she resists your efforts. Denial is a common reaction among those who are dependent on alcohol or drugs.

Wait to talk to your colleague when he or she is sober and clearheaded.

Consider writing down what you want to say and practice how you'd answer a variety of responses from your colleague.

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