I think that someone I work with is using drugs. He is constantly late, distracted and disappears throughout the day. We were once friends and I don’t want to get him fired. What’s my first step?
Your coworker is fortunate that you want to help. Remember, there are many issues that could be affecting his work performance, so we cannot assume it is drugs. It could be a family, financial or a mental health issue. If you are willing -- have a conversation with him. I suggest that you first look into whether your employer or union has an Employee Assistance Program. EAPs are there to help employees by identifying and addressing a broad spectrum of health, economic and social issues, including substance abuse and mental health. Next, prepare a list of specific incidents to reference in your conversation. What did he do or neglect to do and how did it affect you. Examples that affected you personally are best. Determine a location to have a private conversation with him. It could be in an office or outside of work. You should have this conversation as soon as possible after one of his unacceptable behavioral incidents. Express your concern that he does not seem to be himself of late and you are worried about him. Listen. Give your examples. Listen. If you think it is warranted, offer him what you have learned about the range of services through the EAP. Listen. He may or may not offer an explanation. Over time if his behavior continues to deteriorate, you will have to make the decision to either approach him again or escalate to speaking to a supervisor.