Addiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So many factors can contribute to it, including genetics, temperament, and life experiences. When considering environmental factors that may lead to addiction, it’s important to look at our jobs, where we spend most of our time.
As it turns out, when it comes to predicting addiction, all jobs are not created equal. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the rate of substance use varies by occupation and industry. The lowest rates of heavy alcohol use, illicit drug use, and substance use disorder have generally been found in education, health care and social assistance, and public administration. Higher rates of addiction are typically found in mining, construction, and accommodations and food services industries.
Let’s take a closer look at the three professions with the highest rates of addiction.
The restaurant industry is a fast-paced, high-stress business with long workdays and few breaks—so workers may be using alcohol and drugs as a coping strategy or a means of self-medication. In fact, the SAMHSA report found restaurant workers to be the most at risk for illicit drug use and substance use disorders, and the third most at risk for heavy alcohol use.
Here are some of the factors influencing the high levels of drug and alcohol use in the restaurant industry:
- Alcohol availability at work
- Work culture norms (end‐of‐shift drinks; going out after work)
- Peer pressure from coworkers
- Irregular work schedules (including late‐night shifts)
- Low wages
- Low management oversight
Unfortunately, restaurant workers may also face a lack of access to treatment options for drug and alcohol addiction. One report reveals that just 14.4 percent of workers receive health insurance from their employer.
Construction is another physically and mentally demanding job, which may be why some workers turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with stress or physical pain. Long workdays, injuries, or even work-related disability can all play a role in the high level of substance abuse in the construction industry. According to the SAMHSA report, construction workers have nearly twice the rate of substance abuse as the national average.
Opioids are a particularly big part of the substance abuse problem in the industry. In fact, the percentage of construction workers with an opioid addiction is nearly twice the addiction rate for all working adults. Construction workers are commonly prescribed opioids to manage their pain, and those narcotic painkillers are highly addictive. The drugs can also be deadly—construction workers have the highest mortality rates for drug overdose deaths and prescription opioid-related overdose deaths.
Mining is a notoriously high-stress industry, with heavy workloads and hazardous conditions. Miners are typically engaged in physically strenuous work for long hours in remote locations, isolated from friends and family. They often work 12-hour shifts for two to three weeks, followed by a week of leave.
Some of the physical hazards associated with this line of work include:
- Equipment misuse
- Traumatic injury
These work conditions are key risk factors for alcohol misuse in the male-dominated mining industry. So it should come as no surprise that, according to SAMHSA, the rate of heavy alcohol use in the mining industry is higher than in any other industry—and it’s more than double the overall rate among all full-time workers. In addition, the rate of miners who have reported a substance use disorder is the third highest of all industries. Miners may be using drugs and alcohol to cope with physical pain and injuries, as well as a high level of mental and emotional stress.
Of course, working in these industries does not mean that you will become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Correlation is not causation. But if you work in one of these professions—or any job with long hours, highly stressful working conditions, irregular shifts, and easily available drugs and alcohol—pay close attention to your physical, emotional, and mental health.
If you see signs of reliance on substances for self-medication, help is available. At an addiction treatment center, you can detox from substances and gain the tools you need to cope with the demands of even the most challenging job. And if your job doesn’t offer insurance, you can still receive high-quality treatment at an affordable price.
Don’t let a stressful profession have the final say—get the addiction treatment you need to regain control and live a fulfilling life.
If you work in an addiction-prone profession and you’re concerned about your well-being, reach out to Beachside Rehab at 866-714-4523. Our trained admissions counselors can help you find the addiction treatment that’s right for you.