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How to Identify Drug & Alcohol Abuse in Your Workplace

Do bad habits of employees affect the work of the organization? Definitely yes. Therefore, the HR manager must be able to recognise the signs of harmful addictions in candidates and employees. To do this, he needs to pay attention to certain features of behavior. Here are some of them.

Signs of alcohol and drug abuse

When determining the clinical picture of the disease (addiction, including nicotine addiction), physicians are interested in physiological indicators: pressure, blood composition, tissue condition, etc. For personnel management specialists, it is important to understand the behaviour of addicted people and how it shows up at work.

1. Anosognosia

Anosognosia is a medical term that means that a patient does not recognise any disease. In life, people also sometimes behave like such patients, denying the presence of problems.

Addicted people always have an excuse for their addiction. Addiction is a weakness, and no one wants to be weak, so the alcoholic drinks, “because everyone drinks,” and the narcotic addict takes the next dose, because “now is such a period, and then he will definitely quit,” etc.

2. Withdrawal symptoms

A chemical that is taken regularly, sooner or later, is incorporated into the human metabolism in such a way that without it the body begins to malfunction. Withdrawal symptoms are the main cause of decreased performance.

3. Craving for substances that cause addiction.

Any addiction is characterised by the fact that a person wants to receive a drug (alcohol, nicotine), and this is obsessive. Until the addict receives another dose, he cannot think of anything else.

How to identify an addicted person

The HR manager, as the person in charge of personnel security, must monitor personnel at risk. This can be done either in the selection process, or as part of the activities carried out for the assessment, training, and development of employees.

During the recruitment

In general, it is easy to identify an addicted person both in the initial stages, until he has developed behavioural mechanisms that allow him to hide his addiction, or when the addiction has already gone far and has a strong impact on health. Such people during the recruitment are distinguished by a careless and even cheerful attitude towards alcohol, smoking, drugs. When asked they can laugh it off, saying “and who is not using now?” and so on. During interviews, such candidates can (if, of course, “you get them to talk”) demonstrate interesting knowledge of alcohol or drug addiction and use specific terminology.

On work

During work, these people also do not reveal their passion for psychoactive substances for some time, but the HR manager should be especially vigilant if an employee suddenly began to take time off, or he starts to have frequent health problems (dizziness, fainting, nausea, etc.).

Employees who are using drug or alcohol can also be identified by the signs of addictions described above. If, for example, a person is susceptible to alcoholism, then the mechanism of anosognosia will definitely turn on.


The denial of the disease is also manifested in the fact that addicts create myths. One of the myths is that all creative people use or have used substances that alter consciousness. This is nothing more than a delusion. There are, of course, cases when drugs and alcohol helped to liberate the mind of a musician or poet, but this is rare. The use of “chemistry” does not help, but interferes – efficiency and attention decrease.

Another thing is that there are addicts among famous and successful people, but they achieve high results not thanks to, but in spite of their addictions. Drug addicts sometimes say that the experience they get from drugs uplifts them, and people who have never “taken” anything are just ordinary people.


Don’t forget, that even if you can notice these signs from time to time, there is no more effective way of determination than a test. Make it a rule to test all your employees a few times a year. Get drug test kits that are easy for use, fast and reliable.


Unfortunately, statistics show that the use of alcohol and potent substances and drugs negatively affects a person not only in everyday life but also at work. The use of alcohol, drugs and some potent drugs by workers leads to an inadequate state, interferes with work with the proper efficiency and has an extremely negative effect on labour safety.

Ana Hoffman
Anna Hoffman is a part-time blogger who writes on Business, Technology, Digital Marketing, Real Estate, Lifestyle, and Educational topics.
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