Dangers Of Substance Abuse In The Manufacturing Industry

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The manufacturing industry has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic, especially following the pandemic. These professionals experience long hours, high physical demands, a lack of control, and repetition at work, which may contribute to substance use.

Rate Of Addiction Among Manufacturers

The manufacturing industry involves the processing and configuration of materials to create food products, chemicals, consumer goods, and technologies. Much of the work is done in factories.

Manufacturing is home to many entry-level jobs. The American manufacturing industry employs more than 11 million people.

Although it’s one of the larger industries, manufacturing is also known for being high stress. This may contribute to the fact that more than one in 10 manufacturing workers experience addiction.

Read more about careers with high rates of addiction.

Rate Of Addiction Among Manufacturing Workers

Approximately 10.4% of manufacturing workers abuse substances. The prevalence of substance abuse among this cohort is higher than the general population (6%).

The industry also experiences high rates of alcohol addiction (10%) compared to other industries.

The widespread legalization of marijuana has presented new challenges for manufacturers. Some companies have revisited current policies while others are exploring new initiatives on how to approach the issue.

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The Manufacturing Industry And Opioid Addiction

A considerably high number of manufacturing workers have been impacted by the opioid epidemic. However, the exact rate of opioid use among this demographic is unknown.

Some workers may start on the path to prescription opioid abuse to lessen the pain of work-related injuries. Long hours spent performing repetitive tasks can open the door for overuse injuries and chronic pain.

These workers can also experience severe injuries, such as crushing or loss of limbs. OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin are among the most commonly prescribed painkillers for injuries like these.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many companies to shut down and factories to close. The ramifications left many workers unemployed and financially unstable; both contributing factors to the opioid crisis.

Type Of Drug Use Rate Of Addiction Trend
Alcohol Use 10% Consistent
Illicit Drug Use 7.6% Consistent
Prescription Drug Abuse N/A There has been an increase in opioid abuse

Signs Of Addiction Among Manufacturing Professionals

With drug or alcohol addiction, there may be telltale physical and/or behavioral signs. These signs may be more or less apparent depending on the severity of the addiction.

Common signs of a substance use disorder (SUD) include:

  • bloodshot, glossy eyes
  • pupils that are oversized or pinhole-sized
  • shakiness or tremors
  • uncharacteristic mood shifts, i.e., paranoia, fear, anxiety, giddiness, irritability, etc.
  • reduced concern for personal appearance and/or hygiene
  • sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • insomnia or excessive sleeping

If a manufacturing worker is experiencing addiction issues, there may also be telltale signs in the work environment.

Common signs of substance abuse among manufacturing laborers include:

  • reduced performance
  • impaired coordination
  • increased errors
  • impulsivity
  • problems with coworkers
  • increased absenteeism
  • frequent trips to the bathroom

Possible Contributing Factors To Addiction In The Manufacturing Field

Manufacturing workers face their own set of stressors that may contribute to the rate of substance abuse in the industry. Many of these contributors entail the nature of the work.

Long Hours

While some full-time workers maintain regular schedules, many others work irregular shifts. Some workers are on the second shift or third shift, and others have rotating shifts or swing shifts.

Shifting schedules can interfere with sleep and result in sleep problems. The lack of a stable schedule can also affect a person’s ability to manage personal obligations.

Long hours can be made even longer during times of high demand, like the holiday season. Though more hours translates to higher pay, the demand can take a toll on workers.


There are many different jobs in the manufacturing industry. While some jobs involve oversight and management, others call for workers to perform repetitive tasks.

In many factories, workers on assembly lines perform a single task for hours, day after day. The repetition and lack of a challenge can lead to boredom, as well as job dissatisfaction.

The need to stand guard and perform the same task can also yield a lack of social interaction. Thus, some workers may turn to substance use as a way to stay awake and engaged during the workday.

Physical Demands

Constant repetitive movements can take a toll on the body and lead to future health problems. Workers can experience lower back pain from standing for much of the day.

Some workstations are poorly designed, which makes it even more difficult to perform the job successfully and efficiently. Despite the high physical demand, workers have little control.

Depending on the environment, workers in some factories, plants, or mills are exposed to large equipment that can pose a danger if it malfunctions, or if a worker accidentally slips and falls near the machinery.

Risks Associated With Manufacturing Workers And Addiction

Drug and alcohol abuse pose a hazard to all industries, regardless of the work environment. However, in the manufacturing industry, there is a heightened concern for injury or fatality.

Working in a factory, mill, or plant under the influence of drugs or alcohol contributes to lost productivity and increases the likelihood of accidents.

Resources For Manufacturing Workers With Substance Abuse Issues

Substance abuse can significantly impact the workplace, especially when it has an overwhelming effect on public health in an entire industry. Thus, it’s important for employers to support workers with addictions.

Employers should communicate their expectations to new hires, which should include information about substance abuse, and do so in a way that efficiently reduces stigma.

Many employers are doing away with drug and alcohol testing because of the number of manufacturing workers that test positive, which dwindles the talent pool.

However, to ensure a drug-free workplace, employers should continue implementing random drug tests as a means of preventative intervention, especially for people operating heavy machinery.

Because of the higher rates of opioid abuse in manufacturing, employers can opt to carry naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Inpatient And Outpatient Treatment

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to permit eligible employees with serious health conditions, such as a drug or alcohol addiction, to take a leave of absence to receive treatment.

Employers that provide workers with health insurance can offer information about relevant healthcare providers and treatment facilities that offer detox, inpatient, and outpatient services.

Workers dealing with substance use disorders and/or mental health issues can be directed to employee assistance programs (EAPs), which offer voluntary counseling, referrals, and other resources.

Get Help For Substance Abuse Today

Addiction can affect anyone at any time in their lives, but you don’t need to handle it alone. If you or a family member is experiencing addiction, contact DetoxRehabs.net and get connected to a treatment center today.


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