Living in the modern world can be extremely stressful and can sometimes lead to drug and alcohol dependence in the workplace. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 9% percent of American workers abuse alcohol or drugs. The following five occupations have unusually higher rates of substance abuse than other jobs.
1. Healthcare Professionals
Substance abuse among healthcare professionals may seem surprising. However, easy access to prescription painkillers and a number of drugs used for anesthesia can contribute to these high rates of substance abuse. A recent study conducted by personal injury firm, Anapol Weiss, analyzed drug and alcohol abuse among healthcare professionals and found 99,367 disciplinary measures taken against U.S. healthcare professionals from 1999-2017. Nurses have the highest rates of offenses for drug and alcohol violations. Other factors that contribute to this high number of offenses include long work hours and stressful work environments.
Addiction rates are also extremely high among lawyers. Factors that can be contributed to this may include long and tedious work hours and very stressful situations where a lot may be at stake. The American Bar Association estimates that one in five lawyers have an alcohol problem. Since lawyers are supposed to keep a professional demeanor at all times, they're usually good at covering up substance abuse problems. They are also often considered to be high functioning alcoholics.
3. Hospitality and Food Service Workers
A nationwide survey found extremely high rates of alcohol abuse among young adult restaurant workers. According to the report, "Hazardous alcohol consumption patterns were seen in 80% of men and 64% of women." Their analysis shows that factors that can contribute to this include high rates of turnover in the workplace, low income, stress and irregular work hours.
4. Law Enforcement Officers
Police officers may have one of the top toughest jobs. On a day-to-day basis, their required to protect, serve and are often faced with very extreme situations. In a large sample taken of urban police officers, "18.1% of males and 15.9% of females reported experiencing adverse consequences from alcohol use and 7.8 % of the sample met criteria for lifetime alcohol abuse or dependence." The study found that PTSD symptoms and incident exposure were factors associated with the level of alcohol abuse. Rates of alcohol dependence are much higher among those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
5. Construction Workers
Employees in the construction industry often face intense labor, long hours and unpleasant work environments. Many of these factors contribute to the high rates of substance abuse and alcohol dependence. Many construction workers who have substance abuse issues are known to "self-medicate" with prescription painkillers or alcohol. 16.5% of construction workers admit to heavy alcohol use and 11.6% admit to using drugs.
There are several career-specific programs geared to help individuals in different careers. Many contributing factors for substance abuse and alcohol abuse overall include long hours and stressful work environments.