If your substance use has become a problem or if you are recovering from a substance use disorder, your job may be part of the problem. People in some jobs have a much higher risk of developing substance use disorders than others. The most significant factors that contribute to substance use include stress, odd or demanding hours, physical danger, and access to drugs or alcohol. If you have one of the following kinds of jobs and substance use has been an issue, you might want to consider making a career change or move into a different kind of job in the same industry. Here are the kinds of jobs with the highest substance use.


Many healthcare jobs combine high stress, long or irregular hours, and access to drugs. It’s perhaps no surprise then, that many people in the healthcare industry—especially doctors—have an elevated risk of substance use. While roughly eight to 10 percent of Americans have a substance use disorder, the figure for doctors is between 10 and 15 percent. Additionally, while alcohol use disorder affects about six percent of Americans, it affects more than 15 percent of surgeons. Much of that drinking and substance use appears to be motivated by stress, and doctors have easy access to powerful drugs. What’s more, medical professionals often assume their expertise will shield them from developing a substance use disorder.


Law is an incredibly high-stress profession with long hours. Many lawyers also find themselves defending clients they believe to be criminals (or at least unethical). As a result, the rate of depression and anxiety among lawyers is extremely high. One study found that more than 61 percent of lawyers suffer from anxiety and more than 45 percent suffer from depression. Those numbers are astronomical. By comparison, in the past year, about 20 percent of Americans had an anxiety disorder and about seven percent of Americans had an episode of major depression. As a result, problem drinking among lawyers exceeds 20 percent—more than three times the national average.

Food service

Food service jobs, which include bartending, cooking, and waiting tables are also highly stressful, with long hours. In addition to the stresses of the job, food service workers are typically not paid as well as doctors and lawyers, which adds an element of economic uncertainty. Bartenders are always around alcohol and although many bars prohibit drinking on the job, being in that environment can be triggering. It’s also common for chefs to use alcohol and stimulants to get through high-pressure shifts. As a result, substance use issues in the foodservice industry are about twice what they are in the general public.

Manual labor

The high risk of addiction in manual labor jobs like mining, timbering, and construction is the primary reason states like West Virginia and Ohio have been hit so hard by the opioid crisis. People in these jobs not only work long hours in dangerous conditions, but they often spend weeks at a time away from family and friends. When they are injured on the job, they are sometimes given opioids for the pain and sent back to work. Other workers may use alcohol to relieve the aches and pains of physical labor. These conditions create a high-risk environment for developing substance use disorders.


At Fort, we offer a safe, nurturing, and healing space for men and women to find recovery from the multifaceted disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face their challenges, discover the root of their problems, and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today at 844.332.1807 or contact us through our admissions page.


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