This GBCA Safety Toolbox Talk provides signs to look out for in colleagues who may be either depressed or struggling with substance abuse. Click below to download the Toolbox Talk as a handout (includes Sign-In Sheet).




Signs of Depression and Substance Abuse

Symptoms of depression and substance abuse can be similar, making it difficult to tell the difference between the two. Either way, it’s important to recognize signs in case you or a colleague may be in need of resources and help. Individuals struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse can become less careful on the job site, and therefore, a potential hazard.

Common Signs of Depression:

  • Constant fatigue and lack of energy
  • General low mood, or moodiness and anger
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of guilt or despair
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts

Common Physical Signs of Substance Abuse:

  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination

Common Behavioral Signs of Substance Abuse:

  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Changes in attitude/personality
  • Lethargy
  • Sudden changes in a social network
  • Dramatic changes in habits and/or priorities
  • Involvement in criminal activity
  • Habitual lateness or absenteeism


If you see or suspect that a coworker is dealing with depression or substance abuse, see your supervisor to help them get the help that they may need.


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