Careers With Highest Substance Abuse Rates

Careers With Highest Substance Abuse Rates

The prevalence of substance abuse in certain professions is not a coincidence. Research has shown that particular work environments expose individuals to certain situations that increase the probability of indulgence in drugs and alcohol. Professionals that have the highest rates of substance use are usually associated with heavy workload, high stress levels, prolonged working hours and physical toll.

Below are five of the industries with the highest levels of substance abuse.

Food Service

About 17% if people working in food service abuse drugs and alcohol. Most commonly abused substances in this industry are amphetamines, cocaine and alcohol. Experts attribute the prevalence of substance in this industry to the hectic work environment, long shifts and the frantic and fast pace expected at work. Many individuals in the industry indulge in substance use to get a kick to help push their bodies to get the work done escape the physical and emotional drain that comes with the job.


The physical strain experienced by individuals in the construction industry could be the main reason for substance abuse prevalence. Most construction workers abuse alcohol and painkillers. Overuse and addiction to painkillers is very common as individuals suffer physical pain, muscle tears and sore muscles and popping the pills to numb the pain easily becomes second nature. Luckily, many construction companies now carry out alcohol and drug tests as part of safety measures and this has seen a decline in the rate of abuse.


Individuals who work in the entertainment industry be it media, design, art, and sports tend to suffer from substance abuse. While many think that abuse is highest in the entertainment industry, it actually stands at 12.4%. Most substance abusers in this industry are hooked to alcohol, cocaine and opiates.

It’s not a secret that many celebrities are addicted to drugs and alcohol and a good number has died from overdose and other substance abuse related complications. The lifestyle and exposure to these substances could be attributed to the high rate of substance abuse in this industry. The pressure and stress that comes with trying to maintain a certain public image especially for celebrities could be another factor.

Information Technology

Believe it or not, even the ‘geeks’ do suffer from substance abuse. The work atmosphere in Information Technology is highly competitive and fast-paced. Individuals in this industry are expected to meet tight deadlines doing projects that demand a lot of concentration. In this industry, many are workaholics and that is why they easily fall prey to the use of cocaine and Adderall in an attempt to keep their productivity levels up.

Real Estate

Last but not least, individuals working in real estate also fall prey to substance abuse. This is a volatile business. The stakes are high and the pressure to deliver insane. Most individuals in this industry get big wins when a sale takes place but they also go through prolonged periods of dry spell where sales are elusive. To celebrate the wins often they’ll engage in alcohol and drug use and to numb the stress during the dry spells, they will turn to drugs and alcohol.

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Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.