I am concerned about a friend or co-worker

The collaborative nature of the entertainment industry necessitates working closely with others in stressful situations. Often we are the first people to notice the negative consequences that slowly present themselves when a friend or co-worker is caught in the downward spiral of alcohol or substance abuse.

Subtle changes in a friend or co-worker such as attendance problems, difficulty performing work, unsafe behaviors and social withdrawal begin to affect our work environment. We may find ourselves “covering” for someone whose work is affected by their alcohol or substance use. Problems may progress to the point that our own personal wellbeing and safety is compromised. How to handle this situation is unique in every case.

Below are a few basic guidelines. Click on each heading to find out more, or download a one-sheet PDF of this information.

What are the signs that a friend or co-worker may be substance dependent?
  • Are they preoccupied with alcohol or drugs
  • Has their use of alcohol or drugs caused problems for them or for you
  • Do they continue to use after they become aware that problems are/have occurred
  • Do they show signs of withdrawal symptoms when they have made an effort to stop
  • Do they have to partake in more alcohol or drugs in order to function or feel good
  • Have they made multiple attempts to control their intake without long term success
  • Is there more than one substance involved – such as alcohol and drugs
Are there signs of changing priorities as a result of dependency?
  • Personal relationships with coworkers/friends/family suffer
  • Avoiding meaningful social interaction in order to indulge
  • Personal hygiene and healthy lifestyle reduced
  • Inability to accept responsibility for actions
  • Is there a negative progression that impacts their interaction/behavior and/or relationships
Has their use of substances led to poor judgement or irrational behavior?

Have their actions led to:

  • Decreased quality and/or efficiency at work
  • Being late to work or poor attendance
  • Behavior that jeopardizes their safety and/or that of others
  • Accidents at work or at social functions
  • Motor vehicle citations or accidents
  • Relationship problems
  • Increased likelihood of committing crimes or being a victim of a crime
  • Legal problems as a result of personal interactions (friends, neighbors, workplace, general public, etc.)
  • Financial problems
  • Engaging in risky, unprotected sex, or showing signs of sexual abuse, date rape
  • Evidence of self-inflicted physical harm
  • Talk about hurting, or perhaps killing others
  • Talk about suicide

Learn more about alcohol or substance use

What consequences have you experienced?
  • Uncomfortable around them
  • Make excuses for, or justify, their behavior
  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of ability to maintain (or grow) a positive relationship
  • Concern for them causes your mental/physical health to suffer
      • Lack of sleep
      • Heightened anxiety or depression
      • Changes in your schedule to accommodate their dependency
  • Sense of powerlessness or insecurity
      • Is it your place to intercede?
      • Don’t know how to broach the subject (see Link “How to Talk To Someone”
      • Fear of losing friendship/relationship
      • Fear that if you withdraw from the friendship/relationship something bad will happen to them
      • Fear of retaliation
      • Don’t know what resources are available to help them or you
What is the difference between enabling and intervention?

Enabling behavior

  • Giving or lending them money
  • Making excuses for them
  • Paying their bills
  • Allowing them to stay with you
  • Lending them your tools when they have lost, pawned or forgotten theirs
  • Cleaning up their messes (physical, social, occupational or legal)
  • Tolerating habitual relapses
  • Setting ultimatums and not following through

Intervention Tips

  • Stop denying that a problem exists
  • Don’t fear the outcome
  • Set boundaries – and enforce them
  • Detach with empathy/concern
  • Help them find recovery support
  • Show compassion and support when/if they enter recovery
Behind the Scenes Foundation makes no representations or warranty whatsoever, either expressed or implied, regarding any information or advice provided by this training. In no event shall Behind the Scenes Foundation be liable to you or anyone else for any decision or action taken in reliance on information provided by this training.