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Occupations with Highest Rates of Substance Abuse

Use this information to make an informed choice on your safe and sober participation in the labor market.

Based on information from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, here are the occupations with the highest rates of illegal drug use (admitting to drug use within 30 days of being asked):

  1. Food service or food preparation worker 17.4% drug use
  2. Construction worker – 15.1% drug use
  3. Workers in entertainment, sports, design and the arts – 12.4% drug use
  4. Workers in sales – 9.6% drug use
  5. Repair, installation and maintenance workers – 9.5% drug use
  6. Workers in the forestry, fishing or farming sectors – 8.7% drug use
  7. Workers in the transportation and shipping sector – 8.4% drug use
  8. Building maintenance personnel – 8.2% drug use
  9. Personal service workers – 7.7% drug use
  10. Office or administrative assistants – 7.5% drug use

The heaviest drinking occupations (based on self reports of heavy drinking within a month of being asked) are:

  1. Construction workers – 17.8% reported heavy drinking within a month of being asked
  2. Repair, installation or maintenance workers – 14.7% heavy drinking
  3. Food service or food preparation workers – 12.1% heavy drinking
  4. Shipping and transport workers – 11.2% heavy drinking
  5. Sales workers – 10.2% heavy drinking
  6. Workers in production jobs – 9.7% heavy drinking
  7. Building maintenance personnel – 9.5% heavy drinking
  8. Farmers, foresters and those in fisheries – 9.5% heavy drinking
  9. Workers in protective services – 8.7% heavy drinking
  10. Engineers, architects and surveyors – 8.3% heavy drinking 

Many of the occupations with the highest rates of substance use and abuse are filled mainly with male and or younger workers.1

Examples of occupations associated with low levels of substance abuse include:2

  • Police officers and other justice workers
  • Bank tellers
  • Teachers
  • Bookkeepers
  • Therapists
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Child care workers
  • Dental aides, physicians and dentists

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