Problem Drinkers By Industry

May 18, 2005
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WASHINGTON — The construction and mining fields have the highest percentage of problem drinkers, with nearly one in seven workers having a serious alcohol problem, according to a new ranking of industry-based problem drinking patterns released this week by Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems at The George Washington University Medical Center.

Wholesale and retail also top the list. Workers in the three top industries are 25 percent to 45 percent more likely to have a serious alcohol problem than the average U.S. worker. By contrast, in government agencies and professional services — such as law, medicine, or architecture — problem drinkersmake up a much smaller percentage of the work force.

“The fact is, for every industry, the numbers are too high,” stated Eric Goplerud, director of Ensuring Solutions. “Alcohol problems take a tremendous toll on the workplace, and it’s in the interest of every workplace to confront the problem and encourage treatment.”

“Employees with alcohol problems are not likely to leave those problems behind when they come to work, and no business can afford to risk workplace safety by simply hoping they will,” stated Elena Carr, director of the U.S. Labor Department’s Working Partners for an Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace program.

“Smart employers take steps to protect their business by educating their employees about the dangers of alcohol abuse and encouraging those with problems to seek help before it affects the safety of all.”

Problem drinking is defined as having an alcohol dependence disorder or alcohol abuse disorder as represented by American Psychiatric Association standards.

According to the report, here’s a breakdown of the likely number of problem drinkers by industry, per 1,000 employees.

  • Construction and Mining          135
  • Wholesale                                 115
  • Retail                                        114
  • Leisure and Hospitality            109
  • Business and Repair Services   106
  • Agriculture                               106
  • Transportation and Utilities       96
  • Finance and Real Estate            92
  • Manufacturing                            90
  • Government                               69
  • Professional                                54


The U.S. average, according to the report, is 91.

The rankings, which evaluate the prevalence of problem drinking in 11 industries, are based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual report produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The rankings are computed using the Alcohol Cost Calculator for Business, a proprietary tool created by Ensuring Solutions.

The calculator, which can be accessed at

http://www.alcoholcost calculator.org/

, allows not only for industry-by-industry comparisons, but also industry-specific calculations of the likely impact, including costs, of alcohol problems on any one workplace.      

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