Construction Workers and Substance Abuse
Table of contents
- Statistics on Substance Abuse in Construction Workers
- Why are Construction Workers Susceptible to Addiction?
- Common Addiction in Construction Workers
- Prescription Medication Leading to Addiction
- Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in First Responders
- Risks of Addiction in Construction Workers
- Alcoholism vs. Alcohol Use Disorder
- How to Approach a Co-worker with Suspected Alcohol Abuse
- Alcohol Withdrawal Signs
- What Should Employers Do to Address Functional Alcohol Problems in the Workplace?
- Addiction Treatment
Statistics on Substance Abuse in Construction Workers
Addiction and substance abuse affect many people across the globe in many ways. Addiction and abuse frequently have devastating consequences that affect the addicts and those around them. However, some manage to overcome their addictions through programs or other treatment facilities and continue with their lives as productive citizens of society. Construction workers can be at an increased risk of becoming addicted to substances due to long work hours, stress, and lack of mental health care in some areas of the country.
What is a Blue-Collar Worker?
Turning to Substance Abuse
It’s common for people who work in high-risk or labor intense jobs to turn to substance abuse as a means of self-medicating for depression or low self-esteem. Construction workers can be particularly susceptible to using drugs or alcohol because of job-related stress, long hours, physical exhaustion, and exposure to heavy equipment. Of course, no one plans on getting addicted to substances, but construction workers must be aware of their addiction risk factors so they can protect themselves while on or off duty.
Why are Construction Workers Susceptible to Addiction?
Common Addiction in Construction Workers
Opiate Painkillers and Benzodiazepines
Other common drug addictions include opiate painkillers and benzodiazepines. These substances are easy to access in construction settings because their effects help people cope with physical stress. However, they’re also highly addictive and can cause severe health problems after years of use. Many construction workers become addicted to these drugs even though they don’t use them for recreational purposes. A three-day prescription can increase the chance of misuse.5 Construction worker addiction is a severe problem that needs a proper solution. If you know a contractor who has turned to alcohol or drugs due to stress at work, encourage them to consider treatment.
A Further Look at Substance Abuse and Construction Workers
Prescription Medication Leading to Addiction
Some medications, like benzodiazepines, are used to treat anxiety disorders. These drugs affect chemicals in your brain that may be out of balance when you have an anxiety disorder. Although these drugs can relieve symptoms for a time, using them regularly or mixing them with other substances (like alcohol) can increase your risk of tolerance and dependence.
Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in First Responders
Early Abuse Signs
- Lying about whereabouts and sudden reluctance to call in sick or come into work
- Change in appearance, such as frequent absence from grooming habits or unkempt appearance
- Difference in how they handle money
- Estrangement with friends and loved ones, including their co-workers, shutting them out for no apparent reason, except that it may be uncomfortable for them to see what’s happening
Severe Abuse Signs
Seek help immediately if you feel your co-worker or loved one is suffering from addiction. Waiting can make it more difficult for them to heal and increase their risk of suffering severe health consequences, including death. Talk openly about construction workers and substance abuse with your loved ones. The only way we’re going to solve these problems is by helping our friends, co-workers and loved ones understand that there are treatment options out there that they can benefit from.
Risks of Addiction in Construction Workers
Disregard to Safety Practices
Overdose and Mortality
Alcoholism vs. Alcohol Use Disorder
It’s essential to keep in mind that alcoholism is a chronic disease of the brain, specifically an addiction disorder. Alcoholism is different from other diseases because it isn’t caused by a virus or bacteria but by repetitive behaviors. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is another term for alcoholism, referring to individuals who may not be alcoholics but still have problematic drinking habits, such as binge drinking or dependence on alcohol.
A Further Look at AUD vs. Alcoholism
How to Approach a Co-worker with Suspected Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol Withdrawal Signs
During alcohol withdrawal, individuals will have both physical and psychological signs. It can endure terrible symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and even seizures while suffering from alcohol withdrawal.
Physical and Psychological Signs
What Should Employers Do to Address Functional Alcohol Problems in the Workplace?
The first step in substance abuse treatment is detox, which involves relieving a person of all substances. This can be done in an inpatient or outpatient facility, depending on several factors. Detox usually lasts a few days, depending on its intensity. A medical professional supervises it to prevent severe complications like seizures, heart attack, brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, and allergic reactions to medications used for sedation during withdrawal. The medical professional may prescribe medications during detox to relieve pain and other symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and nausea.