I practised law for 15 years. A good part of that was acting as a defence lawyer for people involved in the drug trade. I learned a lot more about the effects of drugs than I otherwise would have. I met people that had drug problems, came to know their families and loved ones, and occasionally came to love some that had those problems.
Drug addicts lose their sense of morality. Outrage! How can you say that?? Well, I’ve seen people I really like, kind, considerate people, get into drugs. I’ve seen them steal money from their parents or employers including the ones that gave them that “last chance”, steal equipment to sell, steal the family car, steal lifesaving medication, attempt to take title to parents homes… well, it’s a long list. So here’s my short article on What should I do if my employee or child has become addicted to drugs.
Sure signs of it:
1. Falling off the roadmap – disappearing for days.
Normal people don’t do this, and they don’t do it to just to “get their head on straight”. Disappearing for a few days at a time is a huge red flag. Think 5 thousand people in Tiananmen square. It’s that many red flags.
2. Stuff going missing.
When more equipment or tools are being ordered, but seem to be missing, you’ve already missed the start of it. Small thefts go unnoticed very easily in a family or employment situation. If you’re able to track or determine with certainty that a theft has occurred there is a very good chance that it’s not the first one. Remember also that there are very few coincidences in life.
3. Odd or urgent needs for money.
Where someone has been stable for some months, even if at a low wage, and suddenly needs a loan, right away, this is a red flag. Where someone has a good wage and needs a loan right away, that’s a huge red flag. Needing that loan urgently, where money hasn’t been an ongoing issue, is a change, and it’s a change in general financial conduct. People don’t usually change that. Loaning money at times like these is a donation, but it’s not a donation to the employee or kid. It’s a donation to a drug dealer somewhere. That $20, or $100 won’t be enough though. $100,000 won’t be enough. God can’t make enough money to satisfy a habit or “get me enough to get by so I can get off it”. There’s not enough money in the world to “pay off the people that are after me”. There really is no upper limit or stop point. On the other hand, there are people who are constantly needing loans because they just can’t manage their affairs. This isn’t a change for them. You should avoid them too.
4. Urgent needs to be away, inexplicable absences.
I saw a crane operator storm off a worksite at 7:30 in the morning, yelling that he “can’t put up with this bullsh##”. Crane operators are very well paid. Was he really that upset with something that had occurred by 7:30 a.m.? No. No one who is stable and normal is storming off that early in the day. What was he really doing? He was creating a way to get off site to go get some dope. An hour into the workday is a very tough time for addicts. They might have slept some for the workday, but an hour in lets the sleep and drugs of the night before wear off, and the cold reality of no drugs checks in. By now, for them, the state of no drugs looks pretty bad.
5. Explanations that just don’t “sound right”.
Most people have a sort of internal barometer when it comes to the stories of others. You may not be able to put a finger on exactly what is wrong with a story you hear from someone right that second, but there’s a good chance there’s a little nudge going on in your head, a little “hmm, that’s odd”. That nudge is good sense talking to you. This might check in an hour after the conversation, but if you think about it, what other conversations seemed significant an hour later? It stayed or hovered in your mind an hour later because there was something wrong with it.
6. Sudden changes in appearance/manner.
Hard drugs have super hard effects on the body. Apart from the actual effects of the drugs, hard drug users stop taking care of their body. Significant weight changes are a possible indicator when considered with the other signs. Weight change coupled with manner changes are a huge red flag. Kid/employee excitable and moving constantly or getting angry in a flash? That would be a giant flag.
How to Protect Yourself!
Okay, so you’ve formed the conclusion that your star employee or you kid might be addicted to drugs. My gosh, horrible, now what? HURRY. HURRY HURRY That’s what. By the time you have formed this idea you can be certain that things are a whole lot more addicted than you might think. If you’re thinking “they’ve gotten into drugs” it’s more likely that they are absolutely swimming in drugs, focused on it every moment, and can’t wait to get more. They will start working very quickly to liquidate what they can, particularly once they realize the money train may dry up.
1. Cancel any credit cards or gas cards they have.
Credit cards and gas cards are a way to have actual cash, or to buy stuff that can be sold.
2. Lock down bank accounts that they could have access to.
If there’s a joint account of some kind, get the money out of it. If it’s a joint account they have as much right to it as you do. If the money is not there anymore, they can’t take it. If they know your bank codes go to the bank and change them. If you have a chequing account and they might have had access to your cheques go to the bank and get another account.
3. Get the keys back to anything you readily can.
That includes vehicles, portable locks or trailers, family vacation property, storage compounds or heavy equipment. If it has a lock and key you’d rather they didn’t have the key. Everything will be stripped, even the stuff that has almost no value, just on the off chance it might have some value.
4. Retrieve any family or company vehicle they may be using.
If you have a set of keys, get a friend to drive you to the vehicle and jump in and take it. Store it well away from where your employee or kid can get it back. If you don’t have a set of keys, arrange for a tow truck and plenty of security. Vehicles are a big trigger point as they are the way to go get drugs, or to make money to buy drugs by selling drugs or stealing and fencing property.
5. Retrieve valuable personal property where possible.
If the employee or kid has things like computers for business purposes, get them back quick. The valuable company or family computer that was $1500 or 2K new will sell for $20 to $50 on the street.
6. Contact any suppliers you may have
Your employee or kid may contact them with news of a new job or project and buy equipment. They then sell that equipment. This can be pretty weird stuff, almost anything, so make sure you contact every single supplier.
7. Contact any rental companies you may have accounts with.
Your employee or kid can rent equipment and then sell it.
8. Cancel their company/family phone.
You may be desperate for contact, but that contact is all smoke and mirror words. All of the words you hear are words of manipulation to get more money for more drugs. In the meantime the phone is costing you money, and being used to buy more drugs, or even worse, being used to sell some drugs to buy more drugs.
9. Get the locks changed.
There’s a desperation for money, and a broad examination of where things of value might exist that is going on. If you have a compound, or trailer, or outbuilding, your special someone in these circumstances has been thinking about what’s in it. Get the locks changed on your house, compound, storage shed, you name it. They’re coming for your stuff, don’t make it easy.
10. Electronic surveillance/alarm systems
There is all kinds of software and hardware out there that is reasonably priced and will buzz your phone when motion is detected. Electronic surveillance/alarm systems can alert you to what’s actually going on right that moment, giving you a chance to stop it, or form a record for later criminal charges, or at least inform you who is stealing your stuff. Note that later criminal charges don’t help you too much to actually get your stuff back.
11. Report criminal offences.
If you can’t get your vehicle back, or the kid/employee has already gone and charged things up at the store when not authorized, report it to the police. They may pull over the vehicle while it’s being used for other criminal activity, and your vehicle can at least be recovered. Where the kid/employee has charged up purchases, it’s important for your insurance claim to have a police file number, and it’s not doing a favour for the kid/employee to insulate them from their actions. Experiencing actual consequences is how we learn.
12. Listen to the actions, do not listen to the words.
Words are smoke. They have no substance. Actions are what you can rely on. People addicted to drugs have a really intense mission going, and they’re trying everything they can to keep that supply happening. While saying how much they love you (giving words) they’ll be taking money out of your till or purse, or asking for a loan (taking actions). While confirming that they’re really on it, looking out for you or your business, you’re seeing that they didn’t pick up the groceries from the store, or missed meetings with other companies or subtrades or just didn’t show up for lunch when they said they would. People who are stable do not just no show for lunch. Actions day to day count, words are smoke.
13. Manage the message.
You should not be trying to assassinate the person whether employee or kid, but on the other hand you should not be trying to insulate them from their actions. It’s perhaps better not to say “Employee XX is a drug addict”, as then you step into mean spirited labelling of drug addicts. Instead, you might say “Employee XX is not as reliable as they used to be, and we’re moving on without them”. If you’re really solid in your conclusions, there’s no harm in being honest if you decide to. “Employee XX stole from me” is not libel if it’s true.
14. Record Serial Numbers.
While the police are not exactly out there shaking down the bad guys and getting stuff back, they do occasionally bust a large scale stolen property operation or some high as can be drug dealer driving around with a ton of stolen stuff in his car. That’s the time you might actually get your stuff back if you tracked the serial numbers. The down side is that this is usually months or years after the fact, the stuff might be wrecked, and you have to report it to your insurance company who will want to recover from you anything they have paid.
15. Nothing is too small.
Got some Canadian Tire money in your glove box, or your mom’s “kinda” gold chain in your jewellery box? Both are gold to someone on the wrong side of dope. For them, it might be cash to the dope dealer, or the pawn shop, or …..
After all that, you may be thinking what the heck could they be coming for next? Well, almost anything. Watch for notices of any kind coming in the mail, if you’re named in any lawsuit of any kind that pertains to your child or employee be sure and respond to it. They may have been out there running up your credit, or making contracts in your company name. If you don’t respond to those lawsuits you may end up with judgements against yourself or your company.
These situations are horrible to deal with. There’s a foundation of trust established over the course of years that is tottering. Don’t let it totter, it’s over, give it a push. Then move to protect yourself, and try not to be vengeful. Love your loved one and respect your employee, but in these circumstances, watch and rely on only the actions.
They’re ready to get straight, they’ve hit rock bottom
Rock bottom is the most elastic place on earth. I’ve heard this one so many times, and invested my heart in it, and seen it go wrong. The thing is, everyone wants to believe in their loved one or guy/girl they’ve come to trust. When you see them in a complete wreck, and they’re saying all the words (remember words are smoke), “I’m at rock bottom”, “I’m dead”, “I can’t do this anymore”, “I’ve hurt the people that I love”, they think they mean it. I hope so anyway. Or maybe it’s just more of the manipulation. I hope not. In any case, the result is that new surge of hope, and then there might be the trip to get some new clothes to go to rehab with, so they don’t have to feel like crap all the time, or maybe the new electric toothbrush, because your loved one’s teeth have gotten trashed from the drugs and maybe that will help (it won’t). A bit of money while they’re at rehab would be great right, so they can get snacks? At this point, if you’re inclined to put in any money, make it actual goods, not cash, and make it small enough that there is zero value on resale. This may seem like you’re not investing in their future. That’s what they’ll tell you. They’ll say you don’t trust them, that you’re not putting any faith in them. They’ll tell you this as they get out of the car, and instead of going in the door of the rehab centre they go around the side, and over the fence, and disappear for 6 months. Any cash or goods you gave them of course gets sold off in a heartbeat.
Hey, they’re straight now! 🙂
Damn, I’m really sorry to write this mini-chapter. I’ve been there, I’ve experienced it, and I’ve acted many many times for those who have. There’s all the excitement of the loved one newly out of rehab. They look great! So healthy, a bunch of weight put back on, skin looks great, a real vitality shining through. They’re back! A new boyfriend or girlfriend might have come on scene, there’s hobbies, maybe they’re into the gym regularly. Outstanding! Maybe your loved one or employee has started work, they’ve got the new job or position, they’re really working hard, and bringing a whole new attitude. I can’t say what the numbers are, but there is a very high risk of relapse. When everything seems really great, and you give them a ride to work, they get out of the car, wish you a great day, and don’t even make it to the front door. They’re gone, and you realize they stole some money out of your wallet before they went, or took something you had left from your mom or dad that had passed away. They’re going to get drugs, and they need some way to pay for it. Maybe your son or daughter found an apartment, got steady with welfare or a job, and you take them out to get all the stuff that a kitchen should have. A few days later you drop by, and it’s all gone, everything is gone from the apartment, and the kid is gone. They needed the money, and sold or “gave away” (in exchange for sharing some drugs) everything you paid for. They needed some drugs. You’re left wondering what drove them off the edge. Why did they throw all that progress away? Things were going so well! Why???
This one is really hard to get your head around. Everything can seem great. There’s nothing going wrong, it all seems like a stairway to nothing but up. But somehow, for some reason that I’ve never understood, there’s a decision, and that decision is… “I need some dope”. It’s not based on some reason like “my girlfriend cheated”, or “my boss was a jerk”, or “I got hurt”. These are all events that happen to everyone. It’s based on a decision that is … “I need some dope”.
Be very careful in these stages. Invest extraordinarily carefully. Invest only as much as you’re prepared to see walk down the street to the local drug dealer. Have in mind that he or she (your local drug dealer I mean) needs money too, and would like to live life high on the hog and use lots of dope too. You may want to support that, or you may choose not to??
Be careful, guard your heart as best you can, and your wallet and savings even better. You can invest your heart lots of times, but your savings will run out eventually I assure you. It’s not hopeless. It’s perhaps not hopeful, but it’s not hopeless. Don’t give up, but do try to move forward, and do what you must to protect yourself.