High on Success? 15% of U.S. Employees Admit to Abusing Pain Killers

Most people agree there is nothing wrong with bonding over a beer or two after work but when it becomes too much, it’s important to notice the warning signs of substance abuse and addiction. Across all professional fields in the U.S., substance addiction can affect anyone, but are certain industries more at risk than others?

Detox.net, provider of drug detox financial information and withdrawal guides, broke down recent national drug abuse data* and found recurring patterns in certain industries in America. This breakdown suggests there are intricate issues underlying the correlations between substance abuse and employment type.

Across all industries in the U.S., nearly 1 in 10 (8.76%) of all employees admit to engaging in illicit drug use. Nearly 1/5 (18.1%) of those in the hospitality industry abuse illegal drugs – the highest across all industries in the U.S. In fact, this is more than four times than the lowest industry, which is Public Administration at just 4.11%. These statistics could be due to the long, unsociable hours required by the hospitality industry, as compared to the community-based nature of the public admin field.

Detox.net also found that broken down by type of substance, marijuana use is particularly high across all industries, averaging 53.1%. This suggests that cannabis use is not necessarily associated with specific types of employment, but actually has a far wider effect on the U.S. workforce in general.

Those in construction have the highest reported usage at 60% – that’s almost 2/3 of employees. More than 2/5 (40%) of workers in the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting have admitted to cannabis consumption, which is the lowest across the workforce.

Possibly the most disturbing insight from the data collected are the remarkably high percentages of employees who use pain relievers (such as opioids) for non-medical purposes, which is especially concerning given the easy availability of these substances.

Across all industries, it was found that 15.82% of all employees have abused pain relievers. Once again, those in the construction industry have the highest usage at over 1/5 (22%) and workers in public administration have the lowest rate by comparison at 12%. The field of construction is physically and strenuously demanding of workers, which is a possible consideration with these statistics, as employees might seek substances to help them perform longer hours and aid in difficult tasks.

The breakdown also discovered that more than 1 in 10 (10.67%) U.S. employees have been classified with some type of substance use disorder. Broken down across industries, workers in the Accommodations and Food Services trade have the highest rate at 17%. The Educational Service industry has the lowest (5.27%), which could be explained by the community-based aspect of these professionals, as well as the implication that these workers are more subject to drug testing and perhaps, public scrutiny of their field.

It was also found that nearly 1 in 10 (9.67%) of all U.S. workers are heavy alcohol users.

It’s clear that no industry is exempt from the struggles of substance addiction,’ says a Detox.net spokesperson. ‘However, if your field of work is more prone to drug and alcohol abuse, it’s of vital importance to recognize stress triggers to avoid falling into the trap of addiction. Adopt healthy coping processes like going for a daily walk or run or taking the time to enjoy a favorite hobby.’

*Based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2018 https://nsduhweb.rti.org/respweb/homepage.cfm