There are patterns and trends for substance use. For certain professions in which this kind of use is common, there are almost always obvious, definitive reasons that those working in these industries struggle with dependency issues. While there are myriad factors that contribute to jobs that have drug problems, most of these workplaces feature some combination of stress, heavy workload, physical toll, and long hours.
While this list focuses mainly on illicit drug abuse, heavy alcohol use is also considered. The following professions drive workers to use drugs on the job, in their free time, or both.
Some professions with high drug abuse rates are predictable, such as jobs within the entertainment industry. Others have less predictable patterns. For example, positions in the real estate sector are among the jobs with the highest drug abuse rates. From the predictable to the bizarre, here are the industries in which substance use is highly likely to occur.
Use of illicit substances in the food service industry is well-documented through books, television shows, and movies. These fictional and nonfictional accounts often depict issues among servers, bartenders, and chefs. While some of these may seem hyperbolic, the frightening reality is that nearly 17% of workers in the food service industry suffer from dependency issues. This is according to a study done between 2008 and 2012.
Substance use is said to be common in food service largely because of the hectic work environment. Workers often have extremely long shifts that go deep into the night, and the pace of the work is usually fast and frantic. This environment creates a culture in which use is accepted, and sometimes even expected. In bars and restaurants, workers are in the presence of alcohol all night.
The physical toll of the construction industry might be what drives workers to substance dependency. Construction workers often work long hours doing manual labor, which puts strain on the body. This strain makes it easy for workers to over-use substances, especially anything that helps to numb the body, like prescription opiods.
Construction is a dangerous job to begin with, so substance use in the workplace is a huge concern for workers and employers alike. The stress of temporary employment and lack of health insurance may also lead some construction workers to seek relief in controlled substances and alcohol.
It’s no secret that use of habit-forming substances is popular in the entertainment industry. Celebrities perish every year from overusing illicit substances, and many musicians document these issues in their songs. Illicit substances are part of the Hollywood culture, and many drugs are casually consumed at parties, after-parties, and even on movie sets. Variety even released a special addiction recovery issue in 2019, aimed at shifting the entertainment industry toward a healthier future.
According to a 2008-2012 study of employees in the arts, entertainment, and recreation, nearly 14% of workers reported controlled substance use in the past month. About 13% of entertainment industry workers reported dealing with a substance use disorder within the past year.
There are two primary reasons the mining industry has many workers who struggle with dependency. The first reason is that mining's a physically taxing job, and miners tend to be frequently exhausted and in pain, which can be alleviated with substance use. The second reason is that many of these workers have lost their jobs after the coal industry's collapse.
Pain and joblessness have lead to the epidemic use of opioids and other drugs in states where coal mining once supported the economy.