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Construction workers among top U.S. drug users: study

Construction workers are topped only by miners when it comes to heavy drinking, according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

May 01, 2015 |
Construction employees among top U.S. drug users

Miners and construction workers have a strong preference for alcohol, while hotel and restaurant employees generally prefer drugs to heavy drinking. Photo: Sam Metsfan/Wikimedia Commons

Employees of the construction industry ranked second for drinking heavily, and fifth for drug abuse, says a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

On The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, drug policy reporter Christopher Ingraham writes that drug abuse, including alcohol consumption, costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars in lost productivity annually.

Data show that among the industries with the heaviest drinkers, miners topped the list, with 18% of miners reported “drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on five or more days in the past 30 days.” Construction workers followed closely at 17%.

Ingraham writes that variation among drug abuse and alcohol consumption across industries does not necessarily have a direct influence with the nature of work. Instead, it has more to do with the types of people who work in them.

“For instance, we know that men drink and do drugs more heavily than women,” he writes. “The researchers write that one reason miners drink so much is that miners tend to be young and male. Construction workers, on the other hand, showed abnormally high heavy drinking rates even after controlling for age and gender.”

The graphs below, by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, show the percentage of drug and alcohol abuse by job.


Percentage of employees who drink heavily:

Percentage of employees who use illicit drugs:

Read more on the latest report on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

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