News from 555 Gearhart Road: Looking for signs of drug, alcohol abuse at work

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Drugs, alcohol and the workplace just don’t mix well together.

“I receive calls all the time from individuals or companies, all who love someone, or care about someone who is using drugs in the workplace,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview. “They just don’t know what to do to help the person using drugs or alcohol.”

Drugs and alcohol related accidents happen regularly at the workplace.

“There are 5,000 people a year killed in industrial accidents and some of them are related to drug and alcohol abuse,” said Lenhart. “Forty percent of the accidents deal with drugs. This affects all of us, from the co-worker to the consumer. We pay monetarily for the damage.”

Lenhart said someone working while drug- or alcohol-impaired are not making good decisions on how to do their job.

“Seventy percent of all persons working have drug or alcohol problems,” he said. “Some of them are working alcoholics.”

When a person is involved in an accident at work, he said, the larger companies automatically test the person for alcohol or drug use. Smaller companies don’t always to that, he said.

Lenhart shared some signs that a person may be working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

They include:

• Poor work performance.

• Being late consistently.

• Changing their workplace frequently.

• The person struggles with being productive at work.

• File numerous workers compensation claims.

• Person suffers from paranoia.

• Has glassy eyes.

• Suffers from exhaustion

• Is absent from work a lot.

“The individuals need to know someone cares about them,” said Lenhart. “It’s everybody’s business to get involved.

“The place to start is with the human resources at the place of employment,” he said. “They know of programs that can help a person who has an abuse problem. The United Way started the 211 program, and that’s a good place to start.

“You can also call law enforcement,” he said. “We have a list of about 20 agencies that can provide help and assistance to the person.”

A person’s addiction, he said, affects the company they work for and also affects their family and friends.

“Shelby County Tim Sell told me that 16 families have had their children taken away from them forever because of their addictions,” said Lenhart.

The city and county, he said is always looking for employable people.

“Shelby County and Sidney are struggling to get people employed,” he said. “We need to work with people who need help. We need to get involved with the families and help turn these people around.”

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.