Study finds drug abuse highest in hospitality

Roughly one out of five restaurant and hotel employees uses illicit drugs, giving the hospitality industry the highest incidence of abuse among all U.S. employers, according to a new study from a federal agency.

The report also shows that heavy drinking is common among the industry’s employees. One in 10 engages in heavy alcohol consumption, defined by the authoring agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as having five or more drinks at least five times during a month.

The data was collected between 2008 and 2012 via surveys of employees aged 18 to 64 from the nation’s major industries. Participants were probed for information about their drug use and drinking during the prior month.

Workers in the mining and construction industries were more likely than restaurant or hotel workers to drink heavily, but hospitality’s workforce showed the highest incidence of illicit drug use, at 19.1 percent.

That level of use compares with an incidence of 16.9 percent between 2003 and 2007, according to SAMHSA.

Management across all industries had an incidence of illicit drug use of 12.1 percent, meaning one out of 10 managers abuses the controlled substances.

The report does not specify if the drugs and alcohol were consumed on the job or in the employee’s personal time.

SAMHA defines illicit drugs as marijuana, crack and powdered cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin and prescription drugs used non-medically.

Across all industries, 9.5 percent of workers aged 16 to 64 had a substance abuse problem, SAMHSA said.

The agency is the component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that focuses on the “behavioral health” of the nation. 

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