Intervention Techniques

If drug addiction is contributing to an individual’s poor performance, ignoring or avoiding the issue will not help the situation. An person's use of alcohol or drugs may be the root of the performance problem; however, substance abuse on the part of someone close to the individual also could be the source. Regardless, abuse of alcohol or other drugs inevitably leads to costly and potentially dangerous consequences at home or in the workplace unless action is taken to confront the issue.

Symptoms of Drug Abuse and Addiction

The following performance and behavior problems are common to many individuals who abuse alcohol and/or other drugs. It is important to note that if an individual displays these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean he or she has a substance abuse problem.

  • Performance at home or work
    • inconsistent work quality
    • poor concentration
    • lowered productivity
    • increased absenteeism
    • unexplained disappearances from the jobsite
    • carelessness, mistakes
    • errors in judgment
    • needless risk taking
    • disregard for safety
    • extended lunch periods and early departures
  • Behavior
    • frequent financial problems
    • avoidance of friends and colleagues
    • blaming others for own problems and shortcomings
    • complaints about problems at home
    • deterioration in personal appearance
    • complaints and excuses of vaguely defined illnesses



When an individual’s performance deteriorates for whatever reason, his/her friends and family have an obligation to intervene. They do not need to be an expert on alcohol and drug abuse to do so because the intervention should be focused on the individual’s performance problem.

The following principles of intervention may be followed by friends and family who need to confront a loved one about a performance problem that may be related to substance abuse.

  • Maintain control
    • Stick to the facts as they affect the individual
    • Do not rely on memory; have all supporting documents and records available
    • Do not discuss alcohol or drug use
    • Be clear and firm
    • Be supportive, but avoid emotional involvement
    • Offer help in resolving performance problems
    • Identify resources for help in addressing personal problems


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Alcohol abuse and addiction

Drug abuse and addiction

Related issues

Other addictions


What is addiction?

Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite harmful consequences.

For many years, experts believed that only alcohol and powerful drugs could cause addiction. Brain imaging technologies and more recent research, however, have shown that certain pleasurable activities, such as gambling, shopping, and sex, can also lead to addiction.


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