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Recent Substance Abuse Found in Nearly One in 10 Workers

Government report detects uptick among hotel, food service employees

FRIDAY, April 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly one in 10 full-time workers in the United States have had a recent substance abuse problem, according to an April 16 report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Analysis of data gathered between 2008 and 2012 from more than 111,500 adults with full-time jobs revealed that 9.5 percent of them had an alcohol or illicit-drug disorder in the previous year. "Substance use issues pose an enormous risk to the health, safety, and productivity of American workers," SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde said in a government news release.

Heavy drinking in the past month was reported by 8.7 percent of the workers, aged 18 to 64. Heavy drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion on five or more days over 30 days. About the same number of workers said they used illicit drugs in the past month. Rates of substance use among workers in the 19 industry sectors included in the study varied considerably. For example, rates of heavy drinking in the past month ranged from 4.4 percent among health care and social assistance workers to 17.5 percent among miners.

Overall levels of substance use and substance use disorders among American workers have remained about the same since the last such study in 2007, according to the administration. However, major changes have occurred in certain industries. The rate of illicit drug use among hotel and food service industry workers rose from 16.9 percent in 2007 to 19.1 percent in the new study. But substance abuse disorders in the past year among construction workers fell from 17.3 to 14.3 percent, the investigators found.

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