Where I work my manager was looking to fill an open position quickly. He is in a different state so there is a high degree of independence. He asked if I knew anyone for the job and I looked around. I ended up recommending someone that I met a couple of times, but is more of a friend of a friend.

He got hired. It seems that he has drug related problems. At work he asked if he could borrow cash from me so he could get his dealer to deliver some so he would have more energy. I said no. Another example is he was trying to pressure me into letting him use the company credit card to buy a coffee with because he didn't have his own money. He didn't want to ask for the managers permission, but I did (the circumstances made it somewhat reasonable, we were ahead of schedule to meet with a client so we were waiting in a coffee shop) and the manager said OK. The guy then orders 3x fudge brownies and eats them all at once. I found this very bizarre as he's not big. Also he is very incapable at times. For example he very frequently asks me what time it is. Last time I replied, what's wrong with your phone? He said "my hands are full" because he had his water bottle in one and cigarette in the other. He also takes very long breaks. He seems to try to avoid communicating directly with the manager and asks me to relay messages instead. Also he told me he offered someone else at the workplace his prescription drugs (presumably for cash). These are just a few examples, though I agree they are very circumstantial and hard to quantify.

I asked our mutual friend if he knew about these issues. He said he had been working in the restaurant industry where use of drugs is more acceptable in the workplace. This may be so, but in this work environment it's not.

Should I bring any of this to the managers attention, and if so how? Since I recommended him, I work closest with him, and the manager is in another city, the manager often asks for updates and asks how he is doing. Some workplaces, such as this one, actually give bonuses when you refer someone and they get hired. Why is this? At another job the person training us strongly recommended never to recommend someone. He said he did this with a friend, but when he was offered a job he ghosted the company. (Aside: Why would someone ghost instead of decline the offer or negotiate?) Is it bad to recommend someone for a job because if it doesn't work out it looks bad on you? This seems to be putting to much of the responsibility on one person, especially if you're not the one doing the interviews.

I never had a coworker ask me for money to buy drugs with so I'm unsure how to bring this up when a manager asks me how he's doing. How would you phrase that? Also considering he's a friend of a friend and I did refer him. Should I phrase it like "he asked me for money for drugs and acts low on energy and takes a long time to do simple tasks".

  • 4
    Is any of their behaviour actually impacting on work at all? Your examples hint at annoyances more than anything. Oct 25, 2021 at 2:25
  • 5
    I know minding your own business is often the right thing. But don't you think that's going a bit far if someone is having (illegal) drugs delivered to the work place/client's meeting place etc and asking people for cash?
    – user130167
    Oct 25, 2021 at 2:39
  • 2
    You didn't mention any mistakes in your question. It looks like their behaviour is annoying more than anything else. Also, it's unclear that they got drugs delivered to work. You should probably highlight that. Oct 25, 2021 at 4:29
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    Does this answer your question? How should I handle an unreliable coworker that I recommended? Oct 25, 2021 at 12:42
  • 4
    @JoeStrazzere He asked OP for money to pay his dealer and the drugs delivered to the office. What do you think?
    – Jack
    Oct 25, 2021 at 13:05

4 Answers 4


Tell your manager your concerns and let them handle it.

From the sounds it, it seems like managing the legal liability risks to the company of your coworker's actions isn't your responsibility. However, it likely would be your manager's responsibility. As such, I would simply request a one-on-one meeting with them, relay your concerns about possible illegal activities by your coworker, and leave it to them to handle. It's a part of their job, so give them the information you have to do that aspect of their job, and then go back to focusing on doing your own job.

That said, aside from them trying to borrow money from you to buy drugs with, it seems like a lot of the evidence you have is pretty circumstantial, especially them asking about the time a lot.

  • I get that the time is weird but he does it several times in an hour. This affects me as it interrupts me from the work I'm doing. I'm guessing he's stoned because why else would he do it. The fact that he argued his hands were full instead of just putting down his water bottle leads me to believe it's drug related even more.
    – user130167
    Oct 25, 2021 at 6:24
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    @user130167 "he does it several times in an hour. This affects me as it interrupts me from the work I'm doing" This is also something to bring up with your manager because it's a blocker that impairs your ability to do work. I'm not sure if you should speculate about the reasons why, though. Stick to the facts.
    – nick012000
    Oct 25, 2021 at 7:18
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    @Steve Alcohol is a downer. I'm not sure what drugs the OP's coworker uses, but it's possible that someone without a drug problem might think that uppers like Adderall are legitimately performance-enhancing, and ask for their work to pay for them. It may not be directly comparable.
    – nick012000
    Oct 25, 2021 at 8:16
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    @nick012000, oh come on. Even for illegal drugs that are genuinely performance enhancing, it would still show a shocking disorder of perception to ask an employer to pay for them and to then have them openly delivered to work by a dealer.
    – Steve
    Oct 25, 2021 at 8:48
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    "aside from them asking you for money to buy drugs the rest is pretty circumstantial" - but we DO have the additional context of them asking for money to buy drugs, so why do we care what it would be like without that additional context? And, yes, with that additional context, what would normally be mysterious bizarre behavior does seem like, reasonably, something that can be attributed to a substance abuse problem. As long as OP frames it, as you suggested, as "this was asked of me, and I've observed this" without claiming to diagnose, it should be fine. Oct 25, 2021 at 22:47

If you can't talk to your colleague directly and encourage him to move on, and if you're sure you can't work with your colleague any more, then I think the most sensible approach here is to have a talk with your manager, about concerns that have emerged.

Be frank that you'd misjudged his character, and that you're simply not getting along. You might mention that he has discussed a drug addiction which you feel is affecting his behaviour.

Someone who seeks gets drugs delivered to work to perk them up is either a dysfunctioning addict, or certainly isn't showing normal judgment. Addictions can also affect people's personalities or day-to-day behaviour in adverse ways, and addicts sometimes have underlying personalities or attitudes that are undesirable in certain ways.

I once worked with somebody who I suspected also had a drug problem, and after a very short while I took against him in a visceral way for reasons I could not clearly explain - perhaps because I sensed that he was an untrustworthy character, even though we were on friendly terms and he'd done me no harm. The suspected drug use itself was not my concern. It was other things about his attitude and character.

I suspect you're in the same situation. Asking to borrow money to get drugs delivered to work, speaks volumes to me about an absence of any remaining boundaries, and of somebody who is utterly shameless about their condition. An alternative for anybody who understood they were in bad shape and intended to exert any control over themselves, could have been to simply say "I'm feeling terribly ill today, I need to go home".

If this describes your situation, then again, be frank with your manager (and to yourself) that the real problem is an irreconcilable personality conflict, rather than trying to exaggerate misconduct. Your manager will appreciate having a genuine reflection of the situation, and understanding that it cannot be solved by disciplinary action against your colleague or behaviour change on his part.

In terms of recommending friends in general, one has to distinguish who is being recommended to whom (whether you're being invited to recommend your friends to your employer, or whether you're being invited to recommend your employer to your friends), and also distinguish between a recommendation and a mere introduction. There's a difference between introducing a man from the pub who says he's looking for a job, and vouching for him as a solid character.

  • 3
    "admitting that you lent money to have illegal drugs delivered" OP said they refused to lend the money.
    – Kat
    Oct 25, 2021 at 16:22
  • OP refused the request for drug money, but later helped co-worker to obtain coffee and an overabundance of normal, legal, non-drugged brownies. Looks like the refusal on the drug money was a later clarification-edit, so you may want to update your answer to match. Oct 25, 2021 at 22:51
  • @Kat, yes the OP has only added that information since I wrote my answer. It does put him in considerably better stead to approach his manager about this issue.
    – Steve
    Oct 26, 2021 at 6:20

The fact that he thinks his hands are phones is seriously bad news.

He is so high that he can't distinguish his own hands from his phone.

You need to immediately report this to your manager, admit you made a mistake in recommending this drug addict, and help find another person to fulfill the job. This druggie is a walking liability and ticking time bomb.

Rectify your mistake NOW before you dig yourself deeper. He'll claim his hands are bombs next and then you're screwed.

  • I'm pretty sure that part is a typo on OP's part
    – Kat
    Oct 25, 2021 at 16:21
  • 4
    Probably meant "my hands are full"
    – shoover
    Oct 25, 2021 at 19:16
  • @shoover - Thank you, I couldn't figure out what non-drugged-out possibility that could have been. Oct 25, 2021 at 22:56

Did you try talking to them? Maybe they are aware of their problem, maybe they arent. You could offer help. Going to management and being a "snitch" so to speak just isnt a fair chance and I dont think it will look good, when you recommend someone and then say they are taking drugs because you assume.

It could also be a mental health issue.

Honestly sounds like Kindergarden to me. Seems like you dont like them and just want to get rid of them now before it gets embarrassing for you.

You can go to management when you at least offered helped and they refused to accept it.

  • 6
    This is a seriously bad answer, I suggest you carefully reread the question as you don't appear to have fully processed the situation.
    – deep64blue
    Oct 25, 2021 at 11:30
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    OP is not a social worker, it's not his job to help an intern with his drug addiction.
    – Jack
    Oct 25, 2021 at 13:07
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    "I have a co-worker who seems to be having drug or mental health issues on the job. With my zero experience or expertise in mental health or substance abuse fields, I first tried to resolve the person's problems, myself, before going through company channels." Seems like you're advising OP to admit putting the company at a much greater liability, on OP's own initiative, to insure that OP gets fired. It may make you feel uncomfortable or seem like dumping on someone with problems, but this isn't a buddy at the bar or from down the street. It's the workplace. Hence the stack exchange name. Oct 25, 2021 at 22:55

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