Working with a Co-Worker Who is Under the Influence of Opioid Prescription Painkillers

Close up white pills tablets on wooden spoon with wooden board background

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Two ladies walking togetherCountless of individuals across the world rely on prescription painkillers on a daily basis to help manage a range of complications.

Whether chronic or acute, pain resulting from disease, surgeries, accidents and more, painkillers can be helpful in allowing a person to function more normally and effectively manage the degree of pain they may be experiencing.

Opioid based painkillers are some of the more common types of painkillers prescribed, which are used to treatment moderate to severe pain levels that may not respond well to other types of medications.

Some types of opioid based painkillers include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Dilaudid
  • Oxycontin
  • Percocet
  • Demerol
  • Lortab.

Understanding Opioid Prescription Painkiller Abuse

Many people who rely on opioid prescription painkillers may come to feel as though they need a higher dosage of what they had been previously been taking in order to create the same effect. Developing a tolerance to dosage of an opioid painkiller drug can lead to abuse of the drug, especially if the medication is used over an extended period of time.

This can contribute to abuse of the opioid painkiller. In addiction, a person who is addicted to opioid painkillers will exhibit behaviors that often result in negative consequences.

How To Approach a Co-Worker Under the Influence of Opioid Painkillers

African American father and son talkingWhatever the nature of your job might be, you may encounter a co-worker who is under the influence of opioid painkillers due to abuse or addiction.

They may exhibit symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, depression, lowered motivation, and mood swings.

A person abusing opioid painkillers may also seem sensitive to sensory stimuli, have bouts of increased energy, or even appear hyper-vigilant.

If opioid abuse in a co-worker has been a chronic issue, you may have observed some of the described changes during your time in working together.

Depending on your relationship with your co-worker, you may or may not feel comfortable in approaching them personally to address some of the concerns you have observed.

If the behavioral changes in your co-worker have negatively impacted your ability to fulfill your own job duties or you have observed a compromise in your work environment, you may consider involving a person in a leadership position, such as a manager or supervisor. Recovery is possible and begins with awareness and understanding of the magnitude of a situation involving potential opioid abuse.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What do you think are helpful techniques for approaching a co-worker under the influence of an opioid addiction?

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 22, 2016
Published on

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.