What Are the Booziest Jobs in the U.S.?

By May Wilkerson 05/07/15

The top heavy-drinking job might not be a huge surprise to some.

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If you’re drinking over your job, you’re not alone: drinking costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. But people in certain professions are much more likely than others to hit the bottle after a day’s work. New government data shows which industries’ employees drink the most, and which use and abuse the most drugs.

Unsurprisingly, the country’s heaviest drinkers are workers who spend much of their time underground in often-perilous situations. Nearly one-in-five miners are considered "heavy drinkers," defined as consuming five or more drinks in a session on five or more days in the past month. The next heaviest drinkers are construction workers, at 17%, followed by hotel and restaurant workers, at 12%.

However, hotel and restaurant workers take the lead when it comes to drug use: 19% had used an illicit drug in the past month, followed by arts and entertainment workers at 14%, and managers at 12%.

Among the lowest substance users are educators, only 5% of whom report heavy drinking or drug use. Health care workers are also the lightest drinkers and among the least likely to report regular drug use. Despite what news headlines would have us believe, government employees are the least likely to use illicit drugs.

However, the prevalence of alcohol or drug use in certain professions is not solely due to the nature of the work but also to the kinds of people drawn to the industry. For example, men and young people tend to drink and do drugs more than women and older people, which helps explain the high substance use by miners, who tend to be younger and male.

But researchers found that drug use is still the highest among restaurant and hotel workers, even when controlling for age and gender.

The study also found that hotel and restaurant workers are most likely to have a drug or alcohol “abuse disorder,” meaning their substance use interfered with their work, or caused legal or personal problems within the past year. The next group most likely to have substance abuse disorders are construction workers, followed by arts and entertainment industry employees, and managers. Educators and health care workers are the least likely to have a drug or alcohol problem.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.