The Top 10 Jobs With The Highest Rates Of Drug Abuse

Drug and alcohol addiction can be caused by a variety of factors. For some, an addiction can be the result of a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. For others, environmental factors such as trauma, financial issues, or stress can all result in the development of an addiction.

For many people, one of the largest points of stress in their lives is their job. Whether it’s due to long hours, physical strain, discrimination, or other factors, jobs can be incredibly stressful. Unfortunately, for some people, the stress of their job can become too much, and as a result, they may turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope.

While not everyone who works a stressful or demanding job will develop an addiction, there are a handful of careers and professions that have a higher-than-normal addiction rate, which is around 9.5% for full-time workers. Not surprisingly, these jobs are also among some of the most demanding, both physically and mentally.

Below are the top 10 jobs with the highest addiction rates.

1. Mining, Quarrying, And Oil Workers

Miners, including both above and below ground, oil rig workers, rock splitters, excavators, and all others who work in the mining, drilling, and quarrying industry, have the highest rate of alcohol abuse of any profession. With nearly 17.5% reporting past-month alcohol abuse, this industry clocks in at nearly twice the national average for full-time workers.

Mining is a male-dominated industry that is also home to some of the most grueling, high-stress, and hazardous conditions. This is a recipe for addiction, as studies have shown that work conditions play a vital role in alcohol misuse and that men are more likely than women to suffer from alcoholism.

Another major factor that may play a role in such high numbers of alcohol addiction among miners is what is known as a rostering work arrangement. A rostering work arrangement, which was initially designed to cut down on shift changes, means that most miners typically work 12-hour shifts for 2-3 weeks at a time, followed by one week off. These long periods of work can be stressful enough; however, when coupled with time away from loved ones, constant physical stress, and mental distress, it can be all too easy to develop an alcohol addiction.

2. Construction Workers

While some may lump mining and construction work together, surveys show that there are clear differences in drug abuse between the two. While mining and construction workers ranked numbers one and two for alcohol abuse, 17.5% and 16.5%, respectively, the two differ greatly in illicit drug use. For past-month illicit drug use, construction workers ranked fifth, with 11.6%, while mining workers ranked third lowest, with only 5% reporting past-month illicit drug use.

Similar to mining, more than 90% of construction workers are male, meaning they are more likely to use drugs and alcohol and subsequently develop an addiction. Additionally, the nature of construction jobs (long days, physical stress, and constant repetitive tasks) may be a leading factor as to why construction workers are so susceptible to addiction.

Currently, it’s not exactly clear why there are such discrepancies between miners and construction workers in regard to illicit drug use.

3. Restaurant And Food Service Workers

Currently, there are 15.6 million people employed in the restaurant and food service industry, making it the third-largest employer in the country. The restaurant and food service industry is comprised of a wide range of careers, including chefs, bartenders, waiters, sommeliers, hosts, event planners, and many more. These types of jobs are synonymous with having some of the highest-paced work environments, as well as some of the highest reported stress levels of any profession.

According to data collected from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 12% of restaurant and food service workers reported past-month alcohol abuse. Additionally, restaurant and food service workers reported the highest level of illicit drug use, with 19.1% reporting they had used an illicit substance within the last 30 days.

4. Arts, Entertainment, And Recreational Fields

The arts, entertainment, and recreational industries are made up of far more than just famous actors and musicians. It includes artists, personal trainers, athletes, sports umpires or referees, museum curators, and so many more. Sadly, the arts and entertainment industry suffers from addiction at a much higher rate than the national average.

Unfortunately, creative spaces like art, music, and entertainment have a long-standing association with drug and alcohol use. According to NSDUH data, more than 14% of people in the arts and entertainment industry reported illicit drug use in the last 30 days, and nearly 12% reported past month alcohol abuse.

It’s thought that part of the reason why workers in these professions suffer from higher-than-average drug and alcohol abuse is due to the creative freedom and working hours these professions offer.

5. Doctors And Healthcare Professionals

Doctors and healthcare professionals alike have some of the most demanding jobs on the planet. Many of these individuals, particularly those in hospital or emergency room settings, are responsible for the lives and well-being of others, and for many, this pressure can be too much.

Nearly 14% of doctors and healthcare professionals meet the criteria for a substance use disorder, with some studies suggesting that many doctors are more likely to abuse prescription drugs. Another study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that nearly 50% of doctors in a physician health program abused alcohol, and nearly 36% misused Opioids.

While the reasons aren’t 100% clear as to why doctors and healthcare professionals suffer from higher-than-average substance abuse, it’s thought that their proximity to prescription drugs plays a significant role.

6. Information And Communications

Information and communications workers are those involved in the production, distribution, or processing of information. This includes telecommunications, marketing, publishing, or broadcasting. While alcohol abuse rates for these professions are nearly equal to the national average of full-time workers, studies show more alarming numbers for illicit drug use.

Nearly 12% of information and communications workers reported using an illegal substance in the last 30 days. Additionally, a survey conducted by SAMSHA found that nearly 19.3% of information and communications workers abused prescription painkillers in the last 30 days.

7. Sales Workers

Sales professionals tend to have some of the highest demands and tightest deadlines in any office-type job. Among sales professionals, there also tends to be a lot more socializing and odd work hours than in other careers, which may explain why people in sales experience higher-than-average drug and alcohol abuse.

According to data collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), 11% of people working in real estate or leasing and 10.5% of those working in retail sales reported past month illicit drug use. Additionally, the same data found that among all sales professionals, nearly 10.5% met the criteria for a substance use disorder.

8. Management

While the term “management” is a broad job description, when surveying, it is generally accepted that anyone who oversees a group of employees is in management. Additionally, most respondents who self-identify as “managers” are those who work in office settings or who are higher-ranking professionals, such as CEOs or company owners.

According to NSDUH data, 12.1% of management professionals reported using an illegal substance within the last 30 days, and nearly 11.5% said they had dealt with a substance use disorder in the last year.

What is especially concerning about this group is that they are among the least likely to seek help. Many managers, CEOs, or other high-ranking officials fear that they may lose their jobs if they need to get treatment.

9. Lawyers And Attorneys

According to a study conducted by the American Bar Association, 1 in 5 lawyers have a drinking problem. Compared to other working professionals with similar education levels, this is nearly double the national average.

The survey also noted that younger lawyers had the highest rates of substance use disorders as well as mental health disorders. It’s thought that the long hours, coupled with the financial stress of law school, may play a role in this discrepancy.

10. Emergency Responders

The term emergency responders includes police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services such as paramedics and EMTs. Emergency responders are first on the scene of some of the most intense, stressful, and tragic situations. They provide emergency care, support, and medical services to survivors in the aftermath of natural disasters, crime, and accidents.

Sadly, the incredible sacrifices emergency responders make for our society come at a great cost. These stressful and often life-threatening situations can often bleed into a person’s personal life, causing immense stress, which all-too-often leads to substance abuse.

According to data collected by the United States Department of Justice, nearly one in four police officers on the street has a drug or alcohol problem, with some estimates putting the number of officers with a substance use disorder between 20% and 30%.

In another survey conducted by SAMSHA, nearly 50% of surveyed male firefighters reported binge drinking within the last 30 days. When compared to the national average of binge drinkers, which is estimated to be around 15%, this number is extremely alarming. Surprisingly, only 9% of respondents who identified as female reported binge drinking.

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Finding Help While Working

Work can be an incredibly stressful part of life, no matter what field you work in. While some experience stress from physical injury or strain, others can experience mental or emotional stress from isolation or harassment. No matter the cause of your stress, it’s important to find ways to cope that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

Meeting regularly with a therapist can be a great way to learn healthy coping strategies while also dealing with any existing mental health disorders. Additionally, the rising popularity of online therapy means that many working people can find adequate mental health care without disrupting their work schedules.

For those who may be dealing with a substance use disorder or who may know someone who is struggling, finding help can seem like an uphill battle. For many, the fear of losing their job is one of the main reasons for not getting the help they need. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to find help while ensuring your job is not at risk.

First, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 entitles all eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid but protected leave for “a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job.”

Additionally, there are plenty of treatment options, such as outpatient treatment, that don’t involve 24/7 care at a residential facility. While these programs may conflict slightly with a normal 9 to 5 job, there may be a way for you and your employer to work out a schedule that best fits your needs.

For more information on treatment options for you or a loved one, contact a treatment provider today to learn more about finding help while working.

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Zachary Pottle

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  • Zachary Pottle earned his B.A. in Professional Writing from Saint Leo University and has over three years of journalistic experience. His passion for writing has led him to a career in journalism, where he specializes in writing about stories in the pain management and healthcare industry. His main goal as a writer is to bring readers accurate, trustworthy content that serve as useful resources for bettering their lives or the lives of those around them.

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