Most people don’t realize that, while substance abuse is a serious problem among the homeless and unemployed, the majority of people who abuse drugs and alcohol and misuse prescription medications are actually employed. According to Detox.com’s recent study, almost 80 percent of heavy and binge drinkers work at least part time, while nearly 70 percent of illicit drug users are also employed. This is a serious problem, especially when there are certain professions that—for one reason or another—can actually help lead to an employee’s substance abuse both in and out of work.
Certain professions, like construction work, waste management, and agricultural work, can require long hours of physical exertion. This can lead to the abuse of certain substances, whether depressants like alcohol or pain relievers like prescription opioids. All of these professions are included in the top ten jobs with the highest risk of substance abuse. In addition, some jobs do not usually cause as much physical pain as these but can require long hours in a stressful environment. These can include retail and food services, which are also likely to provide low incomes, an issue that can lead to depression and a desire to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.
However, not all jobs that can lead to substance abuse are low-income, physically demanding positions. Lawyers, for example, make a great deal of money, but 29 percent of individuals in this profession report an experience of excess drinking in their first 10 years of practice. Studying to become a lawyer can also put a person deeply in debt, which can add to the stress one will feel the need to medicate away with substance abuse. Sadly, doctors and other healthcare workers face many of these same issues with the added problem of having drugs so easily accessible. In fact, 69 percent of physicians reportedly abuse prescription drugs.
Even people we think of as having it all professionally are highly susceptible to addiction. People working in the entertainment industry—whether behind the scenes or in front of the camera—are often encouraged to use drugs and, especially if they are young, might fall into a dangerous pattern before they know it. In addition, people in management situations often deal with high-stress situations in their better-paying jobs. Coupled with more disposable income, this is a dangerous combination that is highly likely to lead to drug or alcohol abuse.
No matter what your profession, there is always a possibility that you might experience enough stress, enough pressure, or enough pain to lead to some seriously risky decisions. This is one reason why it is so important for employers, business owners, and co-workers to look out for signs of employee substance abuse. If you think you or someone you know is abusing drugs or alcohol—either on or off the clock—don’t hesitate to find help. After all, it is extremely difficult to put an end to a substance use disorder without the proper care, and so many different treatment options now exist, which is helpful to different individuals.