With the ever-increasing number of states legalizing marijuana and the growing opioid epidemic, employers wouldn’t be out of line to be worried about drug usage among their employees. Beyond simple employer worries, recent surveys have shown steady increases in drug usage among professionals in a number of sectors, largely manual work.
The Construction Industry
Workers in the construction industry have seen a 46.7% increase in marijuana use since 2018. Beyond that, 3.4% of construction workers reported using non-prescription opioids. For comparison, the average non-prescription opioid use rate for other professions is about 2%.
These numbers are largely due to the nature of the work, which is straining and can easily lead to injury. A large percentage of opioid abuse begins with an official prescription given after an injury. Worker’s compensation is often more willing to cover opioid prescriptions that better long-term solutions such as physical therapy or surgery.
Oil and Gas Extraction
There are about 161,300 people working in oil and gas extraction in America, and, when grouped with construction workers, had a 12.2% fatal injury rate in 2017. High-stress jobs such as oil and gas extraction can lead to workers self-medicating with marijuana or, in the case of a more serious injury, opioids
Some other industries also saw high rates of drug abuse, whether marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, or cocaine based. Of the entertainment, recreation, and food services industries (all of which had at least double the national rate of drug usage), the food services industry is the most interesting due to its 17.3% drop in marijuana usage over 2018.
More dangerous industries have higher rates of drug use, as workers are more likely to self-medicate. Jobs involving manual labor are more likely to produce work-related injuries that the worker is unlikely to be able to afford thorough care for. When faced with an option between an expensive and time-consuming healing process on their own dime or an opioid prescription covered by their worker’s comp, a worker shouldn’t be expected to take the former.
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