Last Updated on March 20, 2023 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Can the career path you choose actually put you at higher risk for drug abuse, alcoholism, and addiction?  Interestingly, but in some ways not all that surprisingly, research points to yes.  Since we spend almost half of our waking hours at our jobs each week, its not unexpected that our jobs can have a giant effect on the people that we are, and the people that we become.  According to studies collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are measurably higher instances of drug and alcohol consumption by people employed in certain fields compared to others.

Why?  Well, certainly, some jobs are highly stressful, for starters, and that can result increased drug and alcohol use to help an individual cope, or “take the edge off”.   And, people in some positions – like hospitality or medicine – may be more exposed to, or have more access to, drugs and alcohol that people in other jobs.  But, even with that said, it is hard to determine causation; there is clear correlation between certain fields and increased drug use, but is it the field itself that causes the drug use, or is it something else?  While on one hand it may be the jobs that encourage addiction, on the other hand, it’s possible that people who are at higher risk of drug and alcohol abuse are simply attracted to working in certain fields.  In that case, it’s not the job that causes addiction, but instead the likelihood of drug or alcohol abuse is already present in the individual before they even took the job.   Either way, if you are someone who is in recovery from addiction, it may be important for you to know which professions have a higher frequency of addiction so you can be aware of the risk, or perhaps so you may choose a different career path altogether now that you are headed down the path to a new and healthier life.

Jobs with Higher Risk of Addiction

According to the research summarized by SAMHSA, which came from data collected between 2008 and 2012, the top five career fields that have the highest rates of drug abuse and addiction are, in order: 1) hospitality and food service, 2) construction and mining, 3) arts and entertainment, 4) business management, and 5) healthcare.  Brief contemplation on each of these fields results in the realization that a higher prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse in each of these seems logical.  All of these jobs can be highly stressful, have a party atmosphere surrounding them, or have some combination of these two factors.  Below, take a closer look at each of these professions, data regarding drug use for each, and the possible reasons for these increased numbers.

  • Drug abuse can be a challenging issue for all people in the healthcare field, but especially for nurses.  An article from Modern Medicine that was published in 2009 went as far as to say that drug abuse among nurses is a quiet and secret epidemic.  The average addiction rate in the general population is around nine percent, and for all nurses, the percentage is not much higher at ten percent.  However, nurses who work in high-stress environments, such as in the emergency room or in intensive care, have higher rates of use of all substances, from cigarettes to alcohol to cocaine.  Pair the stress factor with easier access to a wide variety of drugs at work, and it is no surprise that people in the medical profession are at higher risk of drug abuse and addiction.  According to one study, it is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of all medical professionals will abuse or misuse drugs at one point during their career.
  • Business Management. Leaders in business, without a doubt, experience higher levels of stress than most people, and it is therefore not that surprising that people in this field have a higher prevalence of substance abuse than people working on other fields.   Business managers work long hours with few breaks and often are pressured to set an example for their subordinates at all times.   Staying awake, productive, and effective constantly can be difficult if not impossible, and as a result, many leaders do turn to drugs or alcohol to keep up the charade.  Furthermore, business luncheons, dinners, and other social events may require that the manager consume drugs or alcohol to fit in as part of the club.  It can be extremely difficult for people in this field to find the time or motivation to seek help with an addiction, and as a result, their use can continue to build, and eventually effect all areas of their lives.
  • Arts and Entertainment. According to SAMHSA, people working in the arts and entertainment field have the fourth highest rate of alcohol abuse at 11.5%, the second highest rate of illicit drug use at 13.7%, and have the third highest rate of diagnosed substance abuse disorders.  Careers in this field tend to attract creative types who may also suffer from things like depression or anxiety, which can also be a predictor for substance abuse.  Also, performing can be highly stressful, and people in this field may consume drugs or smoke cigarettes in an attempt to remain thin or attractive or to seem “on” at all times.  While this may work for a short period, eventually, everything will come crashing down.  Peer pressure and higher frequency of parties and other social events related to this field may also play a part in making careers in arts and entertainments the third highest field on this list.
  • Construction and Mining. Construction workers and people who work in mines have extremely high rates of drug and alcohol abuse compared to the general population – in fact, their rate of alcohol abuse is as much as double the average at 18%, and 15% of construction workers use illegal drugs.  This can partially be a result of on-the-job stress, but also it can be attributed to general work culture in these fields.  Often, construction workers and miners go out after work together to celebrate the end of a hard day, or party hard to blow off steam on weekends – and these activities can cause big and risky problems at work.  An article published in Construction Executive Risk Management in 2016 reminds readers that this can be a dangerous or even deadly risk on the job site.  Individuals who are intoxicated at work, or tired from drug or alcohol use outside of work, are at a much higher risk of injuries or accidents at work that can seriously or even fatally effect themselves or other employees.
  • Hospitality and Food Service. The profession with the highest rates of drug and alcohol use, abuse, and addiction is the hospitality industry.  This field includes jobs that range from hotel front desk managers, to chefs and waitresses, to any position that provides food, lodging, and recreational activities to others.  According to an article in Restaurant Business Online, one in five hospitality workers engages in illicit drug use.  A study in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that as many as 80% of male restaurant workers and 64% of their female counterparts were identified as participants in “hazardous drinking patterns.”  The reasons for this are likely numerous, including things like industry culture, late working hours, low pay, and the need to consistently provide a high level of customer service at all times, which can be extremely stressful for some.

Staying Strong in the Workplace

Perhaps you are already working in one of these fields, and it would be difficult or impossible for you to leave.    If that is the case, do not fear – knowing is half the battle.  If you know that you work in a field that puts you at higher risk for substance abuse or relapse, you can plan accordingly to combat it.   When your co-workers invite you out for a few drinks after work, it’s perfectly okay to decline.  If someone at work offers you drugs, you do have the power and strength to say no, and you can always call your sponsor or go to a meeting if you feel tempted.  Many jobs and organizations have on-site or related counseling programs for their employees to ensure that work relationships remain healthy, and discussing your concerns with them or with your Human Resources department may also be supportive.  On the other hand though, if drugs and alcohol absolutely permeate your workplace, and you are trying to stay clean and sober, it may be time to consider a new job somewhere else.

At Clear Sky Recovery, we are here to offer you support and alternatives for your future.  We have a great deal of experience helping people from all walks of life and from all professions and backgrounds to overcome their addictions, and we can help you too.   Our ibogaine detox can help reset your life and put you on a clean and healthy path from this point forward with few if any cravings.  Ibogaine is a rapid method to beat addiction and you can be back to work quickly after spending a short time at our facility in Cancun, Mexico.  We are standing by to answer any questions you may have about the ways in which ibogaine can help you.  Please give us a call today.