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‘I Think My Coworker Is on Drugs’ – Here’s What You Should Do

It is estimated that over $53 billion has been lost due to a lack of workplace productivity thanks to prescription drug abuse. Not to mention that alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace is a major offense and can result in serious consequences.

A problem like this should be addressed immediately. With that said, if you suspect a fellow coworker or employee is using drugs while on the job then you should proceed with caution.

Following your company’s protocol on drug use is important to make sure that the appropriate and correct action can be taken. When a coworker is on drugs, not only will they perform poorly but they are also putting you and themselves at risk.

Read on, and we will walk you through important advice so that you know how to properly report drug use at work.

Employee Responsibilities

If you suspect that another employee in your office is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then it is your responsibility to report drug use at work. Be sure to compose a written document of how your coworker is acting and why you believe that they are under the influence. 

Inappropriate comments, poor job performance, and erratic behavior are all possible signs of drug use. Document these types of actions and include the date and time as well. This information will be extremely helpful when you file your report.

Go to your Human Resources department and report your findings to them. HR departments have protocols and special training when it comes to dealing with employees who are suspected of using drugs.

It is advisable to speak to your HR department before telling someone else like your supervisor or boss. Your HR representative will be able to point you in the right direction for the next appropriate steps. 

If your office does not have a Human Resources department then go to your department manager or whichever manager is in charge of employee complaints. 

Drug-Free Policies

Most companies and practically all major corporations keep an alcohol and drug-free policy in the workplace. Review your company’s policies as they should describe the process for reporting suspected drug/alcohol abuse.

Your office’s stance on random drug tests, job-entry drug tests, and drug tests based on suspicion of abuse should also be outlined in your company’s policies.

If you are not sure as to what your company’s policies are then you should consult with human resources or your boss. This kind of information can also sometimes be found posted on bulletin boards in employee common areas. You can also check employee files or handbooks you may have received when you were hired. 

Human Resources and Management

When it comes to how human resources and management proceed with reports of suspected drug abuse, they must act exactly to how it is stated in both labor laws and company policy. Because drug testing laws differ by state, make sure that you are correctly following your state’s laws.

Also, if the suspected employee is part of a labor union then you also need to follow the policies that are in that union’s contract with regards to testing for drugs. For example, the contract may state that a representative from the union must be present at the drug test. 

If a drug test comes back as positive, then the next steps must be taken. Depending on the company’s policies, this either means that the employee may have to undergo drug abuse treatment or they may be let go entirely. An employee who tests positive may sometimes challenge the results.  

Drug Tests

If you are concerned that a fellow employee is abusing drugs then you can also set up a consultation with a professional company that specializes in drug testing. This drug testing company can conduct a day of drug screening for the suspected worker as well as other employees. 

Hair Follicle Test

There are several types of drug tests that can be performed in the workplace. A common type of drug test is hair follicle testing. This type of test can indicate if someone has used drugs in the past 90 days although it cannot indicate if the person is currently on drugs. 

To perform a hair follicle test, a qualified technician will cut 100 strands of a person’s hair to check for the presence of drugs within the hair shaft. This test can tell if a person has been under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and opiates. 

Urine Test

One of the more well-known drug tests, urinalysis is able to show the presence of drug residues that have stuck around inside the body even after a drug’s effects have worn off. 

A urine test is able to screen for drugs which include marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates, alcohol, and even nicotine.

Legal Consequences

In some instances, the human resources team may find it necessary to contact local law enforcement after a claim of workplace substance abuse has been reported.

Also, if drugs or other illegal substances are found in the workplace then local law enforcement should be contacted. This helps to prevent possible liability issues. If your office has its own security department then contact a security officer and they can communicate with the police. 

When to Report Drug Use at Work

If you suspect that a fellow employee is under the influence then it is your responsibility to report drug use at work. By making a report, you are not only protecting yourself but you could also be helping your coworker to finally get the treatment that they need. 

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