Almost everyone has complaints about their job, and almost every job comes with risk factors. Some are dangerous by nature (construction, chemicals, firefighting, etc.) and others simply take a toll on your mind and emotions (teaching, social work, medicine, etc.).
A Different Kind of Risk
Have you ever thought that your job may pose a different kind of risk? According to data collected between 2008 and 2012, some jobs stand out as having a higher instance of substance use and substance abuse.
1. Hospitality and Food Service
The highest instances of substance use disorders are among those working in the hospitality and food service industries – basically any person who works to provide lodging, food, or activities to others. This is also an extremely large industry with an astounding number of employees, so the rate of substance use is disturbing.
Alcohol and drug use, abuse, and addiction is high among these workers for a variety of reasons. Any time people are tasked with the happiness of other people, it is a recipe for stress and disaster. Angry customers, unhappy management, long and occasionally odd hours, and low pay are all major factors in the desire for “escape” that substances can provide.
In addition, having odd schedules can make hiding a substance use problem easier. Working varying shifts or having more break-time opportunities can leave unaccounted hours where binging on alcohol or other drugs is possible.
2. Construction and Mining
Those people who work in construction and mining have nearly double the rate of alcohol abuse as compared to the general working population. Some of this can be attributed to stresses of the jobs themselves, but much of it is simply the culture of the workers. Many construction workers and miners will go out after work to wind down or party on the weekends to let off steam.
The dangers of these outings aren’t limited to health risks from alcohol abuse, however. If a worker is tired after a night or weekend of drinking and partying – or worse, still intoxicated the next morning at work – they have a significantly higher chance of causing an accident that could not only injure themselves but also other workers. These incidents could even prove deadly in some circumstances.
Due to many companies adopting a random drug testing policy (as well as a pre-employment drug screen), the majority of these workers are only likely to abuse alcohol, tobacco, and other “legal” substances. These are still dangerous in their own right, however, and any misuse or substance use disorder is cause for alarm.
3. Arts and Entertainment
They say sex, drugs, and rock & roll are the main aspects of being a star. Sadly, this lifestyle is all too common – and almost expected – of entertainers and celebrities from rock stars to actors. Even professional athletes aren’t immune to addiction.
It seems every day there is a new headline or tabloid exposé about a music, film, or television star that has either checked into rehab or died from an overdose. These people are under constant pressure to perform, have extreme schedules, and are constantly judged on their appearance.
The body ideals that society places on people – especially those in front of the camera (whether it’s local television and news anchors or box office stars) – can be brutal. Social media posts and comments about weight are disturbing, and one way people in the limelight cope with being a target is by turning to substance use.
Professional, semi-pro, and even college athletes, despite the drug testing and expected health regimens, are at an increased risk of substance abuse disorders. They are subjected to body image ideals and compete for priority in the lineup, so performance-enhancing drug use is always a concern. There is also a higher risk for alcohol abuse and “study drugs” among student athletes who have to maintain a certain grade point average to be eligible for their sport.
4. Business Management
Business leaders, supervisors, and white-collar workers are at a higher risk for developing substance use disorders. Their jobs are often high-stress, and they often are blamed for things that happen under their watch.
The business lunches, parties, and social events they attend can put them in the company of others in their same echelon of management who may exert peer pressure to join in or try alcohol and other recreational drugs. These business executives may feel the need to comply in order to fit in or pressured to do what their own higher-ups are doing as a show of solidarity and job security.
On top of these pressures, there is the daily stress of management. Being expected to have infinite attentiveness and energy and to be a role model for other employees is stressful. Often the hours are long, and the blame for any mistakes can land directly on the head of management; ensuring everything runs smoothly is also crucial to job security.
For these reasons, recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use are common to calm the anxiety and stress. Pick-me-up substances such as caffeine and illegal or prescription drugs are commonly abused to increase attention and productivity.
Surprisingly (or not), nurses are at an increased risk for substance use. Those nurses who work in a higher-stress environment such as the intensive care or emergency department are at the highest risk of all nurses for using or abusing substances – be it basic alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes or something more sinister like cocaine.
Despite their detailed knowledge of the dangers associated with these substances and their misuse, there is a so-called “silent epidemic” among healthcare workers. People in healthcare not only have easier access to substances but they can also more easily gain legitimate prescriptions for substances through their connections.
Health care workers, especially nurses, are expected to work extremely long hours, and every move they make can alter a patient’s life. Their need for attentiveness/alertness and seemingly endless energy is a huge factor in their substance use.
We Can Help
Iowa’s St. Gregory Recovery Center is open to all people with substance use problems regardless of job or career path. We are here to help all of those struggling with addiction, from road workers to cubicle-dwellers. Regardless of the substance, we have the facility and treatment options to guide you toward a path of recovery and sobriety.
If you or a loved one is in a high-risk job and is showing signs of a substance dependency or substance use disorder, seek help today. Our treatment facility and staff are waiting to help lives be restored!