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Can My Job Lead to Addiction?

Your career and job can lead to addiction and substance abuse in multiple ways. There’s no question that our jobs give us a great amount of stress, which can directly translate to self-medication with alcohol or other drugs. How many times have we heard ourselves or someone else ask things like: “This job is going to drive me to drink.” or “I’m going to need a big drink after today.” or “Save a spot for me at the bar…I’ll be there at 5:01.”? Data from multiple sources published by The National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicates that:

  • 40 percent of workers report their job is “very or extremely stressful.”
  • Over 25 percent report they are “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work.”
  • Nearly one third of workers report they feel “quite a bit or extremely stressed at work.”

Beyond the “happy-hour-can’t-get-here-soon-enough” mentality, however, are several cultural and work-related factors that have undeniably made more professions pre-disposed to addiction and substance use than others. If you or your loved one are wondering whether or not your job can lead to addiction or substance use, here are some important things to consider.

What Jobs Have the Highest Rates of Addiction…and Why?

You may have noticed that addiction in your career field is more prevalent than your friends’ or family members’ jobs. Here are some of the jobs that have the highest rates of addiction and factors that contribute to these high numbers:

Doctors and Nurses

The medical professional continues to experience high rates of addiction, particularly to prescriptions. Data published by the National Institutes of Health indicates that 10 to 15 percent of doctors struggle with addiction on some level. At the same time, The American Nurses Association suggests that up to 10 percent of the RN work force may be dependent on drugs or alcohol. Long hours, extremely high-pressure life-or-death situations and easy access to prescriptions drugs are just some of the factors contributing to higher rates of substance use disorder in the industry. It’s generally easier for medical professionals to hide their substance use disorder, but the stakes are considerably higher due to the important nature of their work with their patients.

Attorneys and Legal Professionals

Data published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine indicates that nearly 21 percent of those surveyed tested positive for hazardous, harmful, and potentially alcohol-dependent drinking. Men had a higher proportion of positive screens, and also younger participants and those working in the field for a shorter duration. Lawyers face a broad and unique set of challenges that make them more vulnerable to substance use and addiction, including long-hours, the competition of partnership, high-stakes responsibilities to defend or prosecute defendants and more. The above study also mentioned that attorneys suffered from high rates of depression and anxiety, which are leading drivers of substance abuse.

 Construction Workers

Construction workers face a variety of multilayered substance abuse threats. Data from NYU indicates that workers in this industry suffer the highest rates of cocaine and opioid addiction. The same findings are reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey of Drug Use and Health. Opioid and marijuana use is largely attributable to severe pain associated with workplace accidents.

Restaurant and Food-Service Professionals

The life of a restaurant worker is not like any other. Very often, chefs, cooks, hosts and wait staff work a completely opposite schedule than the rest of the world, putting themselves in an eternal state of night time. They work long hours, are on their feet constantly and have to maneuver in a workplace culture that is completely different than any other industry. SAMHSA reports that nearly 12 percent of all restaurant and food-service workers struggle with substance use disorder.

How Can I Keep My Job from Leading to Addiction?

If you feel your job may lead to addiction and is causing you to engage in substance use, it’s imperative that you make certain behavioral or lifestyle changes, including:

  • Separating Work form Life
  • Leave Work at Work
  • Consider a Career Change
  • Developing Healthy Coping Mechanisms
  • Seeking Counseling
  • Talking to Your Supervisor

If you’re already starting to experience substance use disorder and addiction, it’s critical that you get treatment as soon as possible to help with your withdrawal symptoms and the behavioral challenges associated with your substance use.

Helping Companies Guide their Employees toward Addiction Treatment

The Recovery Unplugged Employee Assistance Program works with companies in every industry throughout the country  to address workplace substance abuse within their ranks. We offer workplace substance abuse education as well as comprehensive care, including detox and rehab. If you feel that your job may lead to addiction or it’s causing you to drink more or use illicit drugs, contact Recovery Unplugged today to start your treatment now. Don’t let your career drive you toward dependency.

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