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Jobs with the Highest Addiction Rate-May2024

Jobs with the Highest Addiction Rate and Why This is Important for Your Recovery

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

A variety of factors, such as genetics, an underlying co-occurring disorder, and environmental stressors cause drug and alcohol addiction. Environmental stressors can be past trauma, financial strain, divorce, or a big life change that can contribute to drug and alcohol addiction. People may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate when dealing with these intense stressors, and over time, this may lead to an unhealthy pattern of misuse.  

For many people, their job is one of the most significant causes of stress in their lives. Jobs can be incredibly stressful, whether due to long hours, physical strain, discrimination, or other factors. Unfortunately, for some people, the stress of their job can become too much, and as a result, they may turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope. 

While not everyone who works a stressful or demanding job will develop an addiction, there are a handful of careers and professions that have a higher-than-normal addiction rate.  Not surprisingly, these jobs are also among some of the most physically and mentally demanding. According to SAMHSA, 9.5% of full-time employees have a substance use disorder, and certain careers (listed below) are higher than this average rate.

Miners and oil workers

Miners, including both above and below ground, oil rig workers, rock splitters, excavators, and all others who work in the mining, drilling, and quarrying industry, have the highest rate of alcohol abuse of any profession. With nearly 17.5% reporting past-month alcohol abuse, this industry clocks in at nearly twice the national average for full-time workers. 

Mining is a male-dominated industry home to some of the most grueling, high-stress, and hazardous conditions. This is a recipe for addiction, as studies have shown that work conditions play a vital role in alcohol misuse and that men are more likely than women to suffer from alcohol use disorder.  

Another major factor that may play a role in such high numbers of alcohol addiction among miners is what is known as a rostering work arrangement. A rostering work arrangement, which was initially designed to cut down on shift changes, means that most miners typically work 12-hour shifts for 2-3 weeks at a time, followed by one week off. These long periods of work can be stressful enough; however, when coupled with time away from loved ones, constant physical stress, and mental distress, it can be all too easy to develop an alcohol addiction.

Construction workers

While some may lump mining and construction work together, surveys show that there are apparent differences in drug abuse between the two. While mining and construction workers ranked numbers one and two for alcohol abuse, 17.5% and 16.5%, respectively, the two differ significantly in illicit drug use. For past-month illegal drug use, construction workers ranked fifth, with 11.6%, while mining workers ranked third lowest, with only 5% reporting past-month illicit drug use. 

Similar to mining, more than 90% of construction workers are male, meaning they are more likely to use drugs and alcohol and subsequently develop an addiction. Additionally, the nature of construction jobs (long days, physical stress, and constant repetitive tasks) may be a leading factor as to why construction workers are so susceptible to addiction.

Restaurant and food service workers

As of May 2022, there are 12.5 million people employed in the restaurant and food service industry, making it the third-largest employer in the country. The restaurant and food service industry comprises many careers, including chefs, bartenders, waiters, sommeliers, hosts, event planners, etc. These types of jobs are synonymous with having some of the highest-paced work environments and some of the highest reported stress levels of any profession. Restaurant and food service workers are constantly around alcohol in their work environment and often are given a free “shift beer,” are offered alcohol on the job, or commonly go out for a drink or two after work together to blow off some steam.  

Arts, entertainment, and the “creative minds” 

The arts, entertainment, and recreational industries are made up of far more than just famous actors and musicians. It includes artists, personal trainers, athletes, sports umpires or referees, museum curators, and many more. Sadly, the arts and entertainment industry suffers from addiction at a much higher rate than the national average. 

Unfortunately, creative spaces like art, music, and entertainment have a long-standing association with drug and alcohol use. According to NSDUH data, more than 14% of people in the arts and entertainment industry reported illicit drug use in the last 30 days, and nearly 12% reported alcohol abuse in the past month. 

Other careers with high substance abuse include:

  • Marketing and communications 
  • Sales workers 
  • Lawyers 
  • Emergency first responders 

Being smart about returning to work is important for your recovery

When returning to work after you have completed your addiction treatment plan, especially if you work in any of those mentioned above “high-risk” areas of employment for addiction, it is essential to consider whether you want to and should return to the same line of work. This is an important conversation you should also have with your employer.

  • Are you able to deal with the levels of stress?  
  • Do you have healthy coping skills to manage this stress?  
  • Do you have a support team at work and outside of work who are advocates of your recovery and sobriety?  
  • Do you have an aftercare plan or a support group you can contact in case you are experiencing urges and cravings? 

Jobs with the Highest Addiction Rate and Why This is Important for Your Recovery

Tips for returning to work in recovery

You should be able to think about and answer these basic questions before returning to work. Other important things to have set in place before returning to work: 

  • Establish what you will say to your coworkers: Dealing with coworkers again may feel somewhat awkward at first, even if you enjoy working with them. You may be close to some coworkers and just acquaintances with others. Prepare a few comments to help you feel ready for the first conversations. Decide how much you are prepared to reveal about your recovery and to whom. You have control over how much information you share, including the option to keep things entirely private.  
  • Have a “Return To Work Agreement” that protects you and your employer. 
  • Discuss this transition with your employer: Your employer is a valuable ally in your recovery process. You and your employer can create a work transition plan that fits your specific situation. Share your treatment goals and needs with them so they know about changes in your living arrangements or work availability. The plan also helps your employer know what to do if you struggle during your transition.
  • Know that you are not alone.  
  • Have a plan in place to handle work-related stress: No matter how much you like your job or coworkers, stress at work is unavoidable. Depending on how long you’ve been on the job, you’ll know which stress triggers are at your job. Use your treatment recovery plan to help you manage these stressful moments. Decide which coping skills will work for your work setting and discuss the options with your boss. 
  • Join a support group or aftercare program. 
  • Beware of burnout: “Burnout is a combination of physical, emotional, and psychological exhaustion. Recovering from a substance use disorder can make exhaustion more likely, which can mean burnout relapse. You’ve just established your healthy habits, so they’re less stable. You might also find yourself replacing your substance use with an addiction to work. At this early stage, it can take less stress and exhaustion to cause you to relapse. Take self-care seriously and prioritize healthy eating and sound sleep. 
  • Utilize your Employee Assistance Program: Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are available for many jobs in the U.S. These programs help give short-term support for workplace conflicts, behavioral health issues, workplace violence, and family stress. EAP programs can also help with local referrals. If you get into a difficult situation during your recovery, an EAP can give you additional support and interventions that fit your work setting.

AKUA Mind Body can help

Regardless of your profession, if you are struggling with an addiction, it is important to seek professional help from a trusted addiction treatment center such as AKUA Mind Body. It may benefit you to join support groups focusing on your career, as many treatment centers may offer specialized support groups for veterans, first responders, healthcare workers, etc. For example, AKUA Mind Body offers a first responders treatment track.


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