“Substance use issues pose an enormous risk to the health, safety and productivity of American workers.”

~ Pamela Hyde, Administrator of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The stereotype that substance abusers are jobless and homeless is inaccurate. In fact, SAMSHA estimates that 75% of people with a diagnosable alcohol or drug-related disorder are actually employed. But the flipside is this – because almost 1 in 10 US workers has a Substance Use Disorder (HUD), there is a critical need for greater understanding and treatment resources.

After examining data from more than 111,000 adult US workers between the ages of 18 and 64, SAMHSA discovered that 9.5% engaged in heavy drinking or illicit drug use within the past 30 days.

What Industries are Most at-risk of Substance Abuse?

Here are the occupations where substance abuse is the highest:

Heavy drinking –

  1. Mining – 5% (Interestingly, mining had one of the lowest rates of illicit drug use.)
  2. Construction – 5%
  3. Food service and accommodations – 8%
  4. Arts, recreation, and entertainment – 5%
  5. Utilities – 3%

Illicit drug use –

  1. Food service and accommodations – 1%nearly 1 in 5
  2. Arts, recreation, and entertainment – 7%
  3. Management – 1%
  4. Information – 7%
  5. Construction – 6%

In total, food service and accommodations, construction, and arts, recreation, and entertainment had the highest rates of any past-month substance abuse.

On the other hand, the industries with the lowest rates of substance abuse were:

  1. Education – 5%
  2. Health care and social assistance – 7%
  3. Public administration – 2%

 While that may sound encouraging, think of it another way – more than 1 in 20 teachers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and health care workers have a drinking or drug disorder. Now, think of the average school or hospital, you will have a better idea of the scope of the problem.

What Does All This Mean?

If you suspect that someone you care about has an addictive disorder, don’t let the fact that they have a job fool you. Look for other warning signs. Try to convince them to get help.

If YOU are the substance abuser, don’t deceive yourself. It’s impossible to feed an addiction and still maintain the rest of your life forever. Eventually, there will be a reckoning.

If you are an employer, your company policies can help combat this very real public health menace. As Administrator Hyde says, “By developing and actively promoting workplace programs such as Employee Assistance Programs for helping employees deal with substance use problems, employers can significantly improve the health, well-being, and productivity of their employees.”

It only makes good business sense.

Lasting Recovery – “Where Wellness Begins…”