July 28, 2022

Drug Use in the Mining Industry

The stressful and high-demand industry of mining continues to see an increase in substance abuse. Learn more about drug use in the mining industry.


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Susana Spiegel

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Last Update on July 5, 2023

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Drug use in the mining industry continues to climb. It’s one of the industries with the highest drug and alcohol use incidences. This elevated risk is likely linked to the difficulty and stress of a mining job. In this resource, we look into drug use in the mining industry.
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Substance Abuse Among Mining Works is on the Rise

Substance abuse among blue-collar workers has been rising for the past few decades. Laborers in all types of industries suffer from disorders relating to different substances. Of all the industries prone to the misuse of substances, the mining industry has the highest rate of drug use.

Several reasons contribute to this high rate of substance abuse; anything can work as a trigger, from high stress to physical torment. Now, many wonders are alcohol a drug? Yes, alcohol is a drug.

The majority of the workers in the mining industry are heavy users of alcohol. Several studies have found that a high percentage of workers in the mining industry use alcohol along with other illicit drugs to cope with several factors. 

Drug Use Trends in the Mining Industry

The mining industry is one of the most stressful industries to work in, which is a major reason that many of its workers are binge consumers of alcohol while also being prone to using other illegal drugs, including opioids.

Several studies and reports published by several outlets have highlighted the increasing frequency of alcohol usage among industry workers.

A recent report, published by SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, assessing the past month’s heavy alcohol use among adults aged 18 to 64 employed full time, found that 17.5% of workers in the mining industry were heavy alcohol users.

In comparison, people working in educational services and health care only had a 4.7% and 4.4% chance of being heavy users of alcohol.

Along with the mining industry, the workers in the construction industry are the second most likely to be heavy alcohol users. There are many reasons we see such high rates of substance abuse in these specific industries.

The mining industry has always been ahead of others when it comes to alcohol use; in fact, data collected between 2003 to 2007 also showed that the mining industry had the highest rate of alcohol use.

Additionally, the trend of heavy alcohol use saw an increase from 16.2% to 17.5% between 2007 and 2012.

However, when it comes to illicit drugs, the mining industry does not have as high a rate as it does regarding heavy alcohol use.

Surprisingly, only 5% of the employees aged between 18 to 64 years working in the mining industry used illicit drugs in the past month, in contrast to 19.1% of the workers in the accommodations and food services industries.

Nonetheless, It is pertinent to mention that substance use disorder among mining industry employees in the past year was still high at 11.8%.

On top of this, about 1% of mining industry workers are opioid users. All these facts and figures show that the mining industry is one of the most affected by substance abuse disorders.

The people working in the mining sector are more likely to binge drink alcohol than any other intoxicant.

If you or any of your loved ones have been affected by the abundance of drugs in the mining industry, you can consult a reliable rehabilitation center like Cornerstone Healing.

Pulled from SAMHSA Studies

Why does the Mining industry have such a high rate of drug abuse?

The mining industry provides several triggers that can cause people to resort to illicit drugs and alcohol for relief.

But first, it is better to clarify one thing and answer the question that many people have on their minds; is alcohol a drug? Yes, alcohol is a drug, and heavy drinking is one of the biggest problems that mining workers face regarding substance abuse.

Now, getting back to the reasons for such a high rate of drug abuse in the mining industry, we need to look at several factors.

We look at all the reasons and see how each makes the user more likely to resort to alcohol and other drugs. 

  • High stress

High stress is one of the biggest triggers for substance abuse. People suffering from neverending stress tend to rush towards intoxicants to get some relief and put their day behind them. It is probably the major reason why mining industry workers have a high rate of heavy drinking and are more likely than any other industry to be heavy drinkers. 

  • Low wages

Workers in the mining industry are not paid what they deserve. The money they are paid for hours of hard work and toil is nothing compared to what they sacrifice. Furthermore, low wages make it harder for the workers to run a household and feed their families, increasing their stress and making them more inclined towards intoxicants for momentary relief. 

  • Peer pressure

Peer pressure is another major factor contributing to the heavy drinking trend in the mining industry. Most veteran workers in the mining industry already have a drinking habit, and many tend to pressure the young into adopting the habit to become a part of the culture. 

  • Easy access to alcohol

The easy access to alcohol that many mining industry workers have is another major contributor to the high rate of alcohol usage. Many young workers who find it hard to get their hands on alcohol get easy access to drinks in their workplace and start drinking to pass their time and adopt the habit, resulting in a disorder that can have dire consequences. 

  • Irregular working hours

Mining workers have no set schedules, and many are forced to work till late, pushing them further towards alcohol and other substances to pass their time and eliminate the monotony and boredom. Many of the workers use intoxicants just to overcome their frustration.

  • Lack of supervision and set rules

There are no rules that prohibit drinking during work hours when it comes to the mining industry. Even when rules restrict drinking, there is no proper supervision. This influences the workers, especially the young ones, to adopt a habit of drinking during work hours and makes them dependent on alcohol, contributing to their substance disorder and making them more inclined than ever towards intoxicants.

These are only some of the many factors that have contributed to an increase in the rate of substance abuse in workers in the mining sector.

miners-graphic-2 (1)
Pulled from SAMHSA studies

How Can Rehab Help Treat Addiction in Mining Workers?

Addiction doesn’t have to be a lifelong sentence. If you know someone struggling with substance abuse, you can contact a rehab center to get effective treatment and help them overcome their disorder. 

In rehab, the addiction is treated in multiple ways, from cognitive to behavioral and emotional treatments.

Rehab centers use years of research to create the perfect program that makes it easier to overcome substance abuse disorders. The programs are designed to minimize withdrawal symptoms, allowing people to quit alcohol and other drugs without feeling like they are losing a part of themselves.

How to get help for addiction?

Getting help for addiction is not easy; first, you need to accept that you or your loved one has a problem. Once you pass the acceptance phase, you can effectively seek treatment and put yourself on the path to recovery.

There are a number of rehabilitation centers that have made it easier than ever to seek help for addiction. Cornerstone Healing Center is one such outlet; you can visit their online page and get help with a single click while staying at home. If you want to get effective addiction treatment, it is always better to go with a center that has an established reputation for providing the best services.



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Author & Reviewers

susana spiegel recovery writer and SEO expert

Susana is a recovery writer and advocate with over 8 years in addiction recovery. She is passionate about sharing accurate and helpful information about mental health, addiction, and recovery. She holds a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University and has over 7 years of working in the addiction field. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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