Drug Addiction Has Unequal Impact on Differing Careers

Worker
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According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, drug and alcohol abuse is a significant problem within the American workforce. About 8.7% of full-time workers ages 18 to 64 used alcohol heavily in the past month, about 8.6% used illicit drugs in the past month, and about 9.5% were addicted to drugs or alcohol in the past year.

Those percentages indicate that substance abuse is more common among fully employed individuals than was previously thought. Furthermore, this new data flies in the face of the old stereotype that people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are often jobless.

But if nearly 10% of the American workforce abuses drugs and alcohol regularly, what does that say for workplace productivity, safety, and security?

Industries with the Most Alcohol Misuse

The SAMHSA report cited earlier discusses the adverse effects that businesses experience when employees suffer from addiction. Such businesses experience harmful repercussions like lost productivity, workplace accidents and injuries, employee absenteeism, low morale, and increased illness. U.S. companies lose billions of dollars each year just in lost productivity alone, not to mention covering collateral damage or medical bills for addicted employees.

Businesses are affected differently, industry to industry. Following are the industries with the most alcohol misuse among employees:

  • Mining: About 17.5% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Construction: About 16.5% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Accommodations and food services: About 11.8% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation: About 11.5% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Utilities: About 10.3% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Wholesale trade: About 10.2% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Management: About 9.9% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Manufacturing: About 9.7% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting: About 9.4% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • Retail trade: About 9% of employees in this industry struggle with alcohol addiction.

Some of the similarities one might find in many of the above industries are long work hours, hard, laborious work, low pay, stressful work environments, and lack of reward within one's work.

Industries with the Most Drug Abuse

Food Service
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Following are the ten industries with the highest rate of drug abuse among employees. It's worth mentioning that several of the following are also industries that have high rates of alcohol misuse among employees.

  • Accommodations and food services: About 19.1% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation: About 13.7% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Management: About 12.1% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Information: About 11.7% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Construction: About 11.6% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Other services: About 11.2% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Real estate, rental, and leasing: About 10.9% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Retail trade: About 10.3% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services: About 9% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.
  • Wholesale trade: About 7.8% of employees in this industry struggle with drug addiction.

While it may be more challenging to find similarities within the above industries as compared to the industries with high rates of alcohol misuse among employees, one could argue that the above careers are very demanding (food service, real estate, construction, professional services). One could also argue that some of the above trades lend themselves to long hours spent working in relative isolation (accommodations, information, leasing, wholesale trade).

Addressing substance abuse in the workforce will depend a great deal on finding the crucial underlying factors that may lead employees to experiment with drugs.

Addiction Treatment—Getting Help for a Drug or Alcohol Problem

Everyone who struggles with addiction has a unique past, present, and future. It is unfair to stereotype or stigmatize, to say things like, "Construction workers are more likely to drink because____." Using such verbiage invalidates the nature of addiction which is a highly personal and challenging individual crisis that affects each person differently.

But be that as it may, there are statistical trends and higher rates of substance abuse within specific industries. Employees who struggle with addiction should be helped; they should be guided into addiction treatment centers where they can address the underlying issues which gave them the incentive to experiment with drugs in the first place. They can still be productive and contributing members of their chosen workforce, but they must first address their addiction.


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AUTHOR

Ren

After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.

NARCONON OJAI

DRUG EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION