Indicators Of Drug Abuse

Individuals, while at work, may continue their drug dependency and/or habit. Signs which may indicate drug abuse include:

  • Frequent absence or tardiness
  • Unexplained absences from work during normal working hours
  • Frequent telephone calls
  • Frequent and lengthy visits to washrooms, locker rooms, or the parking lot
  • Frequent non-work related visits by strangers or employees from other areas
  • A change in the disposition of the employee
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Bloodshot eyes, runny nose, irritation in eyes
  • Unusual pupil size (i.e. very contracted or dilated in all types of light)
  • Wearing of long-sleeved shirts in warm weather

The role of security in addressing the problem of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace should remain consistent and similar to other policies and procedures. Security personnel are best suited to provide information, gather intelligence, and conduct observation concerning alcohol and/or drug use on company property. In particular, security officers who are stationed at or near parking lots can provide a significant amount of information concerning:

  • Employee trips to their vehicles
  • Non-employees visiting the facility
  • Use of pay phones by employees
  • Parking lot employees before and after work
  • Condition of employees reporting to work
  • Evidence of drinking (empty cans and bottles)

Additionally, employee informants may often confide in a security officer if they know their identity will remain anonymous. Any information received by a security officer either through his/her own observations or from an informant, must be treated confidentially and sensitively. Speculation, rumor, and innuendo are often given as fact so as to embarrass or discredit an employee or the security officer reporting the information. Security personnel should always document reports of drug or alcohol activity at the workplace and report the same to their supervisor.

Security personnel may be asked to serve as a witness for a supervisor who suspects an employee may be engaged in drug or alcohol use on company property. It should be the responsibility of the security department to properly recover, record, identify, secure and store the evidence of suspected alcohol/drug activity. Plastic, self-sealing envelopes can often be purchased from a local supplier or law enforcement agency.

Security can provide a valuable service in conjunction with the human resources department by providing and/or coordinating the training of all supervisors and security personnel to drug awareness and to the procedures which are to be followed when an employee is suspected of drug/alcohol use at work. Local law enforcement agencies are usually an excellent resource in providing some basic training and indoctrination of drug awareness to management personnel. These presentations will often allow the participants to view firsthand what a particular drug looks and smells like when used. Educating the entire workforce to the problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse is a key role that security can provide for any organization.

Often, to accurately detect whether or not a drug problem exists within an organization, undercover investigators are employed to obtain and gather information. Security officers would normally never be informed that an undercover investigator is being utilized. Naturally, if a security officer would suspect that a person is an undercover investigator, this suspicion should never be discussed with anyone for fear or endangering a person’s safety.