NASHVILLE, Tenn. (February 15, 2016) – Vertava Health Market Director and Licensed Addiction Counselor Karen Morgan met with the Nashville Medical Practice Group Tuesday to provide educational tools on dealing with addiction in the workplace.


“The vast majority of people with alcohol and drug problems are employed,” says Morgan. “In 2007, of the 20.4 million adults classified with substance abuse dependence or abuse, 12.3 million were employed full time.”

Morgan’s presentation “Sounding the Alarm: Practical Interventions in Substance Use Disorders” was held at the Parthenon Room at Kraft CPAs in Nashville.


From the patient to the employee, addiction disorders don’t discriminate, but many people, including health care business professionals, don’t know how to identify the warning signs of a problem.

In this discussion, health care business professionals got a crash course in understanding substance abuse issues and learned how to respond.


“Speak up,” Morgan advised the crowd. “Don’t be afraid to point out the changes you’ve noticed or express your concern.”

Morgan says to talk to the coworker about your concerns and offer your help and support, without being judgemental. The earlier addiction is treated, the better. Morgan says don’t wait for them to hit bottom.

“Be prepared for excuses and denial by listing specific examples of the behavior that has you concerned,” says Morgan. “And don’t get so caught up in someone else’s drug problem that you neglect your own needs.”

Morgan says make sure you have people you can talk to and lean on for support, and stay safe. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations. You can support a person with a substance abuse problem and encourage treatment, but you can’t force an addict to change.

“You can’t control their decisions,” says Morgan. “You can, however, set appropriate boundaries. Let the person accept responsibility for his or her actions. That’s an essential step along the way to recovery for drug addiction.”


Morgan says to utilize professionals. Reach out to treatment facilities, counselors and interventionists for assistance. Also, foster constructive confrontation. When an employee is confronted, they usually agree to help.

“An employee will rarely choose alcohol or drugs over their job,” says Morgan. “Until enough consequences are suffered, a person will never stop. Why stop if life isn’t so bad? Sometimes doing something that’s perceived as negative for an addict or an alcoholic is exactly what they need.”



  • Shakes, tremors or slurred speech
  • Unusually high or low energy levels
  • Repetitive speech patterns
  • Dilated pupils, red eyes
  • Excessive sniffing and runny nose
  • Looking pale or undernourished
  • Clothes not fitting properly
  • Weight loss
  • Change in eating habits
  • Unusual body odor


  • Frequently late for work or calling in sick
  • Work problems
  • Missing important engagements
  • Isolating or secretive about activities
  • Legal problems
  • Relationship or marital problems
  • Financial problems
  • Conversations often dominated by drug or alcohol related topics


  • Changes in personality and behavior like lack of motivation, irritability and agitation
  • Moodiness
  • Argumentative
  • Defensiveness
  • Difficulty managing stress
  • Loss of interest in activities/people that used to be important
  • Obnoxious
  • Silly
  • Easily confused
  • Denial
  • Rationalizing – Offering alibis, excuses, justifications, or other explanations for behavior
  • Minimization – Admitting superficially to the problem but not admitting to the seriousness or full scope of the behavior or consequences
  • Blaming – Placing the blame for the behavior on someone else or some event
  • Diversion – Changing the subject to avoid discussing the topic



Barbiturates and benzodiazepines

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Euphoria or an exaggerated feeling of well-being
  • Problems concentrating or thinking
  • Memory problems
  • Involuntary eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Slowed breathing and reduced blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Depression

Meth, Cocaine or other Stimulants

  • Feeling of exhilaration and excess confidence
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased energy and restlessness
  • Behavior changes or aggression
  • Rapid or rambling speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Irritability or changes in mood
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting with weight loss
  • Impaired judgement
  • Nasal congestion and damage to the mucous membrane of the nose (if snorting drugs)
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Depression as the drug wears off

Marijuana, hashish and other cannabis-containing substances

  • A sense of euphoria or feeling “high”
  • A heightened sense of visual, auditory and taste perception
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased coordination
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Increased appetite
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Poor performance at school or at work
  • Reduced number of friends and interests

Narcotic painkillers – opioids

  • Euphoria or feeling “high”
  • Reduced sense of pain
  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems with attention and memory
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lack of awareness or inattention to surrounding people and things
  • Problems with coordination
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Sweaty, clammy skin
  • Constipation
  • Runny nose or nose sores (if snorting drugs)
  • Needle marks (if injecting drugs)

If you or someone you love needs help with alcoholism, substance abuse or mental health, call our 24/7 hotline at 1.888.614.2251 or log onto www.addictioncampuses.com to speak to a Treatment Specialist.



Karen Morgan is a native of Louisville, KY and has lived in the Memphis/Desoto County, MS area since 1982. In 1992 Karen entered the field of Addiction Counseling and earned her Tennessee License in 1997. She has worked for various local agencies and formed a private practice partnership with her mentor, Karen Dennis in 2007. Karen has served on a variety of community boards and currently serves on the executive board for the Memphis Area Prevention Coalition. She also serves on the Tennessee Addictions Counseling Licensure Board and the West Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Addiction Counselors. She recently joined Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services (TAADAS). Currently Karen is the Market Director for the Southeast Region for Vertava Health, which is corporately based in Brentwood, TN. Karen’s primary focus is on educating the public about addiction and recovery to decrease stigma and to ensure treatment availability.



Vertava Health provides the most comprehensive addiction treatment program in the country by going beyond the standard 30 day plan and treating persons struggling with addiction mentally and spiritually to break the cycle of repeated visits to treatment. Utilizing our addiction campus environment we have the depth of caring staff, industry experience and clinical proficiency to effectively treat the disease of addiction for life. Vertava Health’ admissions center is trained to assess and place the client into one of the Vertava Health treatment centers across the country within a 1 hour time frame. This speed in service delivery and thorough commitment to the client long term allows the person struggling with addiction to get quickly on the road to recovery and create a life that’s worth living.


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