A recent study by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the construction industry has the second-highest level of substance abuse in the U.S. among workers ages 18 to 64. About 14.3 percent of construction workers had Substance Abuse Disorder and 16.5 percent drank heavily, according to study information.

The insurance and risk management firm IMRI reported that 25 to 35 percent of pre-employment drug tests come up positive when workers do not know they will be tested. In Colorado, where marijuana is legal, many construction companies still require their workers not to use any drugs and will not hire (or will fire) workers who show evidence of drug use.

Why Drug Use Is a Problem in Construction

When construction workers use drugs or alcohol on the job, their impairment can lead to accidents that injure or kill themselves and others. The Department of Labor said that drug and alcohol use is a cause of 65 percent of job-related accidents, and substance abuse also causes more absences from work, stealing from the employer or other employees, and much higher medical costs.

Employers who started testing for drugs saw a 51 percent drop in injuries after two years, according to a 2001 Cornell study. It is just not safe to operate large machines capable of crushing everything in their path or to climb high into the air to work when construction workers may be impaired.

It was not clear why construction workers had higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse than those in other professions, but it could be because it is one of the last overwhelmingly male professions (males have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse) or because many construction workers injure their backs because of the heavy lifting and repetition involved. Those with chronic pain are at higher risk of opioid abuse because of the common use of prescription opioids to relieve the pain.

The Colorado Connection

Colorado has the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S., 2.3 percent, and one of the highest growth rates. All across the state, new housing, office buildings, and retail locations need to be built to accommodate those moving to Colorado for a variety of reasons.

Colorado is in dire need of construction workers for development projects and new construction of homes and businesses, but companies need to be diligent about not hiring those who may be abusing substances to keep their other workers and citizens safe.

An estimated 96,000 vacancies may exist in the industry state-wide by 2025, but not for those who abuse drugs or alcohol. Colorado is currently offering free training programs to train construction workers and help fill the gaps that exist because of more people going to college and lower unemployment numbers across the state.

If you would like to enter the construction workforce but know you would not pass a drug test, or if you are already in the construction business but know that your impairment increases the risk that you may cause an accident, Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is here to help. Contact us for help to achieve sobriety with treatment for substance abuse today.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.