Patterns and trends for substance use are not generally random. There are certain professions in which this kind of use is common, and there are almost always obvious, definitive reasons why these those working in these industries struggle as a result. 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 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.
Use of illicit substances in the food service industry is well-documented through books, television shows, and movies. They often depict issues among servers, bartenders, and chefs. While it may seem hyperbolic, the frightening reality is, nearly 17% of workers in the food service industry suffer from dependency.
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 creates a culture in which use is accepted, and sometimes even expected. Many people with pre-existing substance abuse problems opt to work in food service because of this culture, which only perpetuates use in the industry.
The physical toll of the construction industry drives workers to 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. Construction is a dangerous job to begin with, so substance use in the workplace is a huge concern for workers and employers alike.
Thankfully, construction companies have started implementing testing and prevention measures, and overuse in the industry has started to diminish.
It’s no secret use of habit-forming substances is popular in the entertainment industry. Celebrities pass every year from illicit substances, and many musicians document the issue in their songs. Illicit substances are part of the Hollywood culture, and many 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 things is diminishing nationwide, use holding strong in the entertainment industry, where it has been a staple of the culture for decades.
There are two primary reasons why the mining industry has many workers who struggle with dependency. 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 use. The second reason is, many of the states with coal mines – specifically Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania – have ongoing epidemics.
As long as substance use is rampant in mining communities, chances are miners will continue to contend with this issue.