The study, which was conducted by the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at New York University’s College of Global Public Health, also found that construction workers are the second most-likely occupation to use marijuana, trailing only service workers.
“Construction workers are at an increased risk for drug use, which makes them vulnerable to work-related injuries or even overdose deaths,” Danielle Ompad, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of epidemiology at the College of Global Public Health, said in an October 30 press release. The release cites other recent studies indicating that construction workers are six to seven times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than those in other professions.
The study surveyed information on almost 300,000 Americans collected by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health over a 10-year period. Around 17,000 construction workers were asked about how often they used drugs, and their results were compared to workers in 13 other professions.
Many people in the construction industry may suffer from falls or other accidents that cause them to turn to opioids to manage pain.
“It makes sense that we see higher rates of construction workers using pain-relieving substances such as opioids and marijuana, given the labor-intensive nature of their work and high rates of injuries,” Ompad added in the press release. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, also found that construction workers with unstable employment or those that frequently skipped work were more likely to use narcotics. A 2015 report found that job insecurity among construction workers could be attributed to several factors, including employment downsizing or a broader financial crisis in a country, as well as advances in technology which may reduce the need for human workers. Women in the field may also face some challenges in what is perceived to be a mostly male-dominated occupation.