Occupational Hazard: Career Choices with the Highest Rates of Substance Abuse

26 July 2017
Career professional at a meeting.

When an individual embarks on a career path, they’re likely considering such pros and cons as salary, contribution to their fellow man, personal fulfillment, etc. It’s doubtful they’re considering the likelihood that they’ll one start abusing drugs or alcohol by the sheer virtue of their occupation. The reality is, however, that there are some occupations with particularly rates of substance abuse and addiction. Whether it’s stress, odd scheduling, easy access to drugs or alcohol or any others, workers in a select few industries may be getting more than the bargained for when they say when I grow up, I really want to be a:

  • Lawyer – According to a recent study from the American Bar Association, one in three practicing lawyers are problem drinkers, based on the volume and frequency of alcohol consumed, 28 percent suffer from depression, and 19 percent show symptoms of anxiety, according to the study, which involved 12,825 licensed, employed lawyers in 19 states around the country.
  • Doctor – A 2013 study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine revealed that 69% of doctors abused prescription medicine “to relieve stress and physical or emotional pain. A career in nursing can be just as hazardous. The American Nurses Association (ANA) estimates that six to eight percent of nurses use alcohol or drugs to an extent that is sufficient to impair professional performance.
  • Laborer or Construction Worker – The long-term pain associated with daily laboring and potential injury causes many construction workers and laborers to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), construction is the second highest industry for past-month alcohol abuse among adults ages 18-64.

For a complete breakdown of how addiction has affected Americans across all industries over the past decade, please view SAMHSA’s recent report. The results may surprise you and have you rethinking your current or future career choice.