"The warning signs might seem glaring to the outsider but the person may be in denial," says Debbie Gershel, chemical assessment program coordinator at Dublin Counseling Center. "Some people have to lose their jobs or marriages before they acknowledge they have a problem. And some have to hit rock bottom."
Warning signs include increased absenteeism, poor performance and health problems. So how do you approach an employee you suspect has a problem? The first step, says Gershel, is to document behavior.
"If you have concrete evidence of problems at work, document them very carefully," she says. "People can explain away a lot of things, but it's harder to argue with documentation."
Gershel recommends voicing your concern to the employee and suggesting that he or she be evaluated by a professional.
"You can't assume the person is using drugs, but you can say it is obvious that something is going on. If there is enough evidence, the person may confess to the addiction," she says. "Or they can remain adamant that there is no problem. Either way, you can recommend a professional assessment."
Brad Lander, clinical director of Talbot Hall, University Hospitals East, recommends confronting the person directly.
"You can say you saw the person drink excessively at a company function or that the person came in late one day and you smelled alcohol on his or her breath," says Lander.
But you can't force the issue.
"The best thing you can do for that person may be the hardest thing to do," says Lander. "Don't cover for him or take on his work. You may risk losing his friendship, but it is worth it." How to reach: Dublin Counseling Center, (614) 889-5722, Talbot Hall, University Hospitals East, (614) 257-3760