It’s no secret that substance abuse is a major issue in the United States. What may be surprising, however, is the effect that substance abuse has on productivity and the workplace across the country.
It’s estimated that 500 billion workdays are lost annually do to substance abuse in the workplace. Substance abuse is detrimental to the health and finances of Americans.
While the problem is widespread and not limited to a specific industry, recent studies have shown that substance abuse is more prevalent in certain industries: manufacturing, mining, construction, wholesale, entertainment/arts and food services.
Roughly 15 percent of Americans with jobs in the manufacturing industry have admitted to drug use in the past year. While this figure may come as a surprise, perhaps it shouldn’t. Because the manufacturing industry is comprised mostly of smaller companies, those with substance abuse histories may seek them out because of the lower likelihood of drug testing.
Because of the high-stress conditions of mining environments – a known cause of substance abuse – illegal drug use is especially high among miners. Recently, the federal government has passed legislation to require random drug testing and educational programs aimed at lowering the rates of substance abuse in American mines.
A recent government survey reported that substance abuse affects approximately 14 percent of construction workers. Because of the long hours during peak seasons and the downtime during the off season, two factors are at play: fatigue and boredom. As noted above, these are known risk factors for substance abuse. Because of the heavy equipment construction professionals operate on a regular basis, substance abuse is especially dangerous in the industry.
Coming as a surprise to many people, substance abuse in the wholesale industry is especially prevalent: around 8 to 13 percent according to various studies and sources. One possible cause? A lack of consistent supervision and monitoring. Because of this, large and small wholesale companies are implementing drug prevention programs.
Less surprising is the substance abuse epidemic affecting those involved in the entertainment and arts industries. With causes ranging from vast availability of drugs to poor examples set by the celebrities that serve as role models to aspiring entertainers, substance abuse is a major issue. With a high-stress level stemming from high expectations, the entertainment industry is slowly taking steps to address substance abuse.
The food service industry has one of the highest rates of substance abuse among all industries in the United States at around 17.4 percent. Food service is another high stress industry with a low socio-economic status for many workers. Additionally, because of the sheer prevalence of the problem, availability is a major contributing factor. While larger food chains participate in education and testing programs, the majority of food service employees are employed by small chains and individually run restaurants without a drug testing program.
Substance abuse is a problem for workplaces across the country. 400 billion hours of work are lost each year based on the problem, and those with substance abuse issues are likely to miss work on a regular basis, leading to a loss of overall productivity. The problem is widespread and growing.
Adrienne is a health-oriented writer interested in career development.
- Substance Abuse Now a Leading Killer Worldwide (prweb.com)
- Celebrities And Substance Abuse (health-host.co.uk)
- Hispanic teens more likely to use drugs, study says (cnn.com)