Many people think illegal drug users are homeless and jobless. This is actually not the case. According to US government studies, nearly 75 percent of illegal drug users have jobs. According to the studies, illegal drug users are less likely to:
- Stay in a job for very long
- Be on time for work
- Come to work
- Get a lot done at work
- Be safe on the job
In addition, employees who use illegal drugs have health care costs two times that of non-drug using employees.
Professions and Drug Use
Different careers have differing rates of drug use. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration found five careers that suffer from high rates of illegal drug use. To compare, the US national average for illegal drug use is 8.7 percent. Illegal drugs commonly used on the job are cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine (meth). Recreational use of prescription drugs is also on the rise.
Food Preparation and Serving
At 17.4 percent, the jobs of food preparation (cooks and prep cooks), serving (waiting tables), and bartending, use illegal drugs at twice the national average. This is for a few reasons. First, restaurants are less likely to perform drug tests, so drug users often apply to work at restaurants. Also, restaurants don’t typically post drug information and policy in the workplace. Food prep workers, servers, and bartenders as a result do not learn about the dangers of illegal drugs. In addition, these jobs are seen as more flexible, can produce cash on a daily basis (in tips for wait staff), and the high turnover rate across the industry means that positions are readily available.
Construction workers are the second-highest users of illegal drugs at 15.1 percent. This is nearly double the US national average. The illegal drug use breakdown among construction workers is:
- Construction laborers – 12.8 percent
- Construction supervisors – 17.2 percent
- Other construction workers – 17.3 percent
More and more construction companies are implementing drug-free workplace policies. Because of this, the rate of illegal drug use in the construction industry is expected to decrease.
Entertainment, Sports, and Media
Many people think the entertainment and sports industries would have the highest rates of illegal drug use. This is actually not the case, though it might seem to be from media attention. The entertainment, sports, and media fields have the third highest rate of illegal drug use at 12.4 percent. The sports industry has a high rate of anabolic steroid use, somewhere between 1 and 6 percent. In the entertainment industry, cocaine and crystal meth are popular.
The job with the fourth-highest rate of illegal drug use is sales, with a 9.6 percent rate. Sales professionals consist of sales agents, traveling salespeople, telemarketers, and the like. Sometimes, if sales professionals still bring in good money to their employer, a blind eye will be turned to their illegal drug use. This can make the illegal drug user’s problem worse, until they eventually hit bottom.
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair
Installation, maintenance, and repair workers use illegal drugs at a rate slightly higher than the national average, 9.5 percent. This can be very dangerous for the installation, maintenance and repair workers. Those who use illegal drugs are much more likely to have a workplace accident.