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How Addiction Can Interfere With Your Job Performance

When you’re experiencing active addiction, there are many things in life that may start to fall to the wayside. You might find yourself compromising on your morals or making small mistakes at work. They can be easy to ignore at first, but don’t let these changes go unnoticed.

The best thing about active addiction is the lessons you can learn at every juncture.

Rock bottom is relative. Anything you notice about how addiction is negatively impacting your life is cause for concern and can be a decision point for recovery. One of the areas people begin to notice being negatively affected is their fulfillment and performance at work.

On-the-Job Behaviors and Actions

As you look at your behavior and actions on-the-job, here are a few things to watch for. If addiction is impacting your work life in any of these areas, take a step back and think about your next step. It can be the moment of clarity you need to move forward and find recovery.

  • Not giving it your best.
    One of the biggest ways addiction can influence job performance is the decrease in our engagement or performance at work. Addiction wants all of our time, energy and commitment, leaving very little time for the other things we care about in life – like family, school and work. Whether you notice you’re not as inspired or excited about your job, or you start notice your performance slipping, take a moment to pause and reflect. Consider talking with someone about your substance use and consider if it’s time for treatment.
  • Showing up late.
    Addiction takes time. You might realize you’re stumbling into work late or preoccupied because of drinking or using the day or night before. Alcohol use causes hangovers, keeps you up late, and makes it hard to get up in the morning. It’s hard to keep up a good reputation at work if you’re showing up to a meeting late.
  • Not showing up at all.
    Whether it happened after a night out or a night alone, isolating yourself not going to work are common occurrences when in active addiction. Addiction and co-occurring disorders like depression or anxiety often go hand-in-hand, and when addiction progresses, it might feel nerve-wracking or overwhelming to go into work. If you start skipping work or even unintentionally missing work, it’s time to take a step back.
  • Small manipulations.
    Whether it was clocking in or out early, spending your time at work for personal matters, or anything else you feel nudging at your conscience, take notice. Small manipulations can add up to create bigger lies over time. If you’re not careful, it’s these lies and manipulations that might put you in a bigger mess than you’ve ever intended – like losing your job or breaking the law.
  • Impacted integrity.
    One thing people often say when struggling with addiction is that they don’t feel like themselves anymore. Often, this has to do with addiction’s influence on a person’s belief system or integrity. The values you hold true for yourself, your life and your career can get set aside in addiction and the whirlwind that goes with it. Watch for this one. Your beliefs, your morals and your actions are integral to who you are as a person. Don’t let addiction take that away, and if you notice this in your job performance, it’s time to pause and make a change.

Employee Takeaways

Whether or not you subscribe to the principles of AA or 12-step meetings, the principles can be helpful to live by. And best said by the literature of AA, “…we practiced these principles in all of our affairs.” The principles of recovery are honesty, integrity, courage, humility, and discipline, to name a few.

Doesn’t it sound liberating to align your beliefs with your actions at work? If so, recovery is possible. You’ll start to re-discover the things that are important to you, on the job and at home, and you’ll notice your character will start to uphold the values you have for your life.

Your professional life can be redeemed, no matter what happened in the past. Just make sure you focus on recovery and one step at a time, you’ll have the wisdom, the character and the values to repair what was lost.

A Note to Employers

If someone on your team is struggling with addiction and you notice any of the above symptoms or behaviors, it might be time for an honest conversation. Remember, those struggling with substance use disorder are not bad people – they’re experiencing the chronic disease of addiction and they may need treatment or support.

As an employer, you need to do what you need to do for your business, but recognize that addiction must be met with help and support, like treatment, mental health services, or even an outreach line in the workplace. When your employees recover, you’ll be amazed at the transformation in their life and work. Recovery is possible, so consider incorporating mental health or recovery support services into your workplace, your policies or your HR department.


Images Courtesy of iStock

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