What Jobs Have the Highest Addiction Rates?

What Jobs Have the Highest Addiction Rates?

American workers are abusing alcohol and drugs at increasing rates. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate substance abuse contributes to lost productivity, injuries, accidents, and increased rates of severe illness. The economic losses are in the billions of dollars. Find out which professions see the highest addiction rates and how to keep yourself healthy.

Impact of Addiction

Men misuse drugs more than women, typically, while younger people seem to abuse drugs at a higher rate than older people. This gap is closing as the workforce shifts away from traditional jobs to opportunities for people to work from home more than ever. Prescription drug use is included in illicit drug use, with heavy drinking being defined as five or more drinks in one day on five separate occasions in a month. With this in mind, it is important to understand how addiction impacts people of different professions and how it happens.


Health care professionals abuse drugs an estimated 10 percent of the time. This is the same rate as the general public. Studies suggest doctors are more likely to misuse prescription drugs than patients. Most doctors don’t abuse drugs because they like getting high. Their reasons vary, but typically are focused on coping with physical pain, stress, and emotional distress brought on by life and work situations. People most likely to abuse drugs in healthcare include:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Emergency room doctors
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Nursing staff

Legal Profession

Young lawyers face mounting pressure, stress, and debt in a shrinking market for entry-level work. The long hours required to build a career in law can keep people from feeling like they can do their work without the use of substances. Around 29 percent of lawyers in their first decade of practice report problematic drinking behavior. Nearly 21 percent of attorneys in their second decade of practice abuse alcohol. Typical problematic drinking behavior starts in law school but continues into further practice due to stress from work.


Burn-out and high rates of substance abuse are reported in hospitality work including hotels, restaurants, food-service contractors, and other eating establishments. Workers in the industry provide lodging or prepare food, beverages, and meals on the spot. Employees may drink, use marijuana, or take illicit drugs to cope with the long hours on their feet, stress, and low wages many make from working in the food industry.

Executives and CEOs

Many executives don’t fear losing their jobs due to addiction. Part of the reason is that they may have enough money to support their habit and continue doing so even if their job is threatened. They are typically concerned about their reputation and don’t believe they can miss work. This stress for high-ranking professionals who may even run their own businesses and companies is one major reason substances are abused.

The physical and financial costs of substance abuse can be detrimental to a person’s career if left unchecked. Treatment, whether inpatient, outpatient, or online, is the best way to find support for recovery from addiction. Workplaces may provide provisions and protection for people seeking help for addiction including time off work and healthcare benefits to cover costs. This should deter people from seeking help when their lives are at stake. The key is to find a treatment program that works for you or your loved one and start the process as soon as possible to avoid further loss of income, relationships, and health.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. Our community support provides structure while trained counselors offer life skills training and therapeutic techniques to help you move past addiction. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.