Jobs 10 Jobs That Commonly Drive Employees to Drug and Alcohol Abuse  

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Patterns and trends for drug use are usually not random. There are certain professions with lots of drug abuse, and there are almost always obvious, definitive reasons why these those working in these industries struggle with substance use. 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, as alcohol addiction in the workplace can be highly dangerous. The following professions either drive workers to abuse these drugs on the job, in their free time, or both.

Some professions with high drug abuse rates are predictable, such as the entertainment industry. Others have less predictable patterns. For example, positions in the real estate sector are among the jobs with highest drug abuse rates. From the predictable to the bizarre, here are the industries in which substance abuse highly likely to occur.

Food Service

Food Service is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 10 Jobs That Commonly Drive Employees to Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Photo:  Disney-Pixar

Commonly Abused Substances:

  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Alcohol

Drug use in food service is well-documented, with books, television shows, and movies frequently depicting the substance abuse of servers, bartenders, and chefs. While it may seem hyperbolic, the frightening reality is, nearly 17% of workers in the food service industry suffer from a substance abuse problem

Drug abuse is 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 is conducive to substance abuse, which in turn creates a culture in which drug use is accepted, and sometimes even expected. Many people with preexisting substance abuse problems opt to work in food service because of this culture, which only perpetuates the use of drugs in the industry.


Construction is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 10 Jobs That Commonly Drive Employees to Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Photo:  Miramax

Commonly Abused Substances:

The physical toll of the construction industry drives workers to abuse drugs and alcohol. Construction workers often work long hours doing manual labor, which puts strain on the body. This strain makes it easy for workers to get hooked on substances, especially alcohol and painkillers, both of which help numb. Construction is a dangerous job to begin with, so substance abuse in the workplace is a huge concern for workers and employers alike.

Thankfully, construction companies have started implementing drug testing and alcohol prevention measures, and abuse in the industry has started to diminish


Entertainment is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 10 Jobs That Commonly Drive Employees to Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Photo:  Zef Records

Commonly Abused Substances:

  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Opiates

It’s no secret drug addiction is popular in the entertainment industry. Celebrities die every year from overdoses, and many musicians document substance use in their songs. Drugs are part of the Hollywood culture, and substances such as cocaine and MDMA are casually consumed at parties, after-parties, and even on movie sets.

The entertainment industry never sleeps, so it’s common for those who are a part of it to turn to substances to try and keep them going. Even though the use of many drugs is diminishing nationwide, use holding strong in the entertainment industry, where it has been a staple of the culture for decades. 


Mining is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 10 Jobs That Commonly Drive Employees to Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Photo:  NBC Universal

Commonly Abused Substances:

  • Painkillers
  • Opiates
  • Alcohol  

There are two primary reasons why the mining industry has many workers who abuse drugs. The first reason is, mining's a physically taxing job, and miners tend to be frequently exhausted and in pain, which can be alleviated with drug use. The second reason is, many of the states with coal mines – specifically Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania – have drug epidemics

As long as substance use is rampant in mining communities, chances are miners will continue to abuse them. However, mining still has a much larger problem with alcohol use than with illicit drug use.