The Relationship Between Addiction & Work – Part Four – How Non-Addicted Coworkers Can Help

In the previous article, we discussed how somebody with addiction can work to overcome the issue while working a job. In this section, we will focus on what other employees can do to help improve a workspace that is negatively affected by addiction.

How Employees Can Help

The best thing that you can do is create a safe and understanding environment for the person with the addiction. Even if their behavior is affecting you negatively, it won’t help things if you become aggressive or angry at them. This will likely make them defensive and less likely to work on their issue.

Instead, try one of the following approaches.

Speak with them in confidence.

Most people with addictions are not proud of them, and many of them experience feelings of shame and depression as a result. It’s important that they don’t feel like everyone is talking about them behind their back.

Also, they are most likely not enthusiastic about the possibility of their boss discovering their addiction. It’s important that you speak with them in confidence. This opens up an opportunity for you to reassure them and help and put them on a road to recovery, perhaps with the help of a drug detox center San Diego.

Be understanding and gentle.

Addiction is difficult for those who struggle with it, even if they appear headstrong and confident. Remember that there is a substance controlling their life. Many people with addictions refuse even to acknowledge to themselves the seriousness of their problem because of the shame and insecurities that would come alongside this.

When you speak with them about addiction that you must be understanding, compassionate, and gentle. Do not accuse them or put them at fault for their behavior. Instead, let them know that you understand that they’re in a difficult situation and their behavior is not anything that they would choose themselves.

Talk to your employer and coworkers and try to educate them.

Many people choose not to understand addiction, instead simply ostracizing those who struggle from it.

In the workplace, this can manifest as judgmental behavior and discrimination among employees. If you observe people talking down about the individual because of their addiction or refusing them equal opportunities because of it, call them out on their judgmental behavior. Remind them that anybody could fall into an addiction and that they are fortunate enough to have lived a life in which they were never exposed to addiction in a situation where they were so vulnerable as to fall victim to it.

If your employer doesn’t know much about addiction, they may also be biased against it. Many people have been fired from their jobs not because of unacceptable behavior resulting from their addiction, but simply because their employer felt that anybody using drugs or struggling from in addition must be unfit to work.

If you don’t use drugs then you’re in a strong position to help educate your employer about drug and alcohol use. They may at the end of the day still feel that their simplest option is to hire someone without addiction, and that’s fine, too. However, by educating them you may be able to help them sympathize with your addicted coworker and at least create a space in which they have an opportunity to pursue their recovery at a drug detox center San Diego. without losing their job.

Try to educate the addicted person.

It is surprising and concerning how often drug users know very little about the substances they’re addicted to. If you have studied addiction then you may actually have some information to share with them. Teach them as much as you know about harm reduction practices, and encourage them to wean down their usage by gradually reducing their dosage until they’re less physically dependent.


As a non-addicted coworker, you are in a unique position to help defend anybody who struggles with addiction. You can let them know that not everybody is biased against them, and you can educate other people in the workplace about addiction. This may help them move forward and seek rehab at a drug detox center San Diego.

Skip to content