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Opioid misuse, cocaine use higher among construction, extraction workers: study

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New York — Written drug policies and programs are strongly needed in the construction and extraction industries, researchers from New York University are saying after their study revealed that workers in these industries are more likely than those in other industries to misuse prescription opioids and use cocaine.

The researchers from the NYU College of Global Public Health analyzed 2005-2014 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which sampled more than 293,000 U.S. adults. Among the study population, about 16,600 (5.6%) were construction and extraction workers.

Of 14 industries studied, workers in construction and extraction had the highest prevalence of prescription opioid misuse (3.4% compared with 2% of workers in other fields) and cocaine use (1.8% vs. 0.8%). They also had the second-highest marijuana use, at 12.3% – behind service industry workers (12.4%). Around 7.5% of non-construction workers said they used marijuana.

 

The researchers also noted a connection between drug use and unstable job status. Construction workers who were unemployed in the past week or working for three or more employers were more likely to misuse prescription opioids or use marijuana. Missing three to five days of work in the past month because of an injury or illness doubled the odds of opioid misuse.

“Having written drug policies was associated with reduced odds for cocaine use, and workplace tests for drug use during hiring and random drug testing were also associated with lower odds of marijuana use,” the study’s abstract states. Additionally, workplace alcohol testing and employers who fire workers for positive drug tests were linked to lower odds of marijuana use, according to an Oct. 30 press release from NYU.

The study was published online Oct. 30 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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