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Silhouettes of worker in the mine.

Addiction Risks For Manual Laborers

You’ve heard us say before that addictions can strike anyone. But are there people in certain industries who are more at risk? Truth be told, the answer is yes; particularly when it comes to America’s crippling painkiller crisis. New research from New York University confirms that fact even more, highlighting the heightened risks for miners, construction workers and those who do manual labor for a living.

According to the latest stats, roughly 4 percent of people in labor industries are prone to developing an opioid dependency. That is compared to roughly 2 percent of those who work in settings like offices or retail shops. And when you take a step back and look at it, it all seems to make sense. People who are doing physical work day in and day out are much more likely to be injured or develop some type of chronic pain. Hence the painkiller prescriptions and the potential to form a habit.

Danielle Ompad, who helped conduct the study at NYU, spoke to CBS News about some of their recent findings and the true dangers these workers should be informed about.

“We know that people working in construction and various labor industries are more likely to experience injury,” Ompad explained. “They do quite a bit of physical labor and there is probably a lot of pain, so some of this may be self-medication, in particular for marijuana and non-prescription opioid use. They might have been prescribed, but if your doctor stops prescribing them and you have issues around dependence or are still feeling pain, you may try to find alternative sources for those prescription opioids.”

Interestingly, psychological factors were also brought up when exploring the addiction tendencies that come from these fields. People in construction, for example, often deal with low pay and job insecurity. That, in itself, can be a stressor that may lead to a dependency.

And the NYU research backed that up, highlighting that cocaine use is also higher among people who work in manual labor. That, of course, raises the risk of overdoses and fatalities (particularly if you begin to mix narcotics with opioids).

Ompad went on to add, though, that it is important to not generalize or think negatively of anyone who may be working in these fields. For starters, many do not develop dependencies and those who do often start taking opioids without the intention of being hooked.

“We need to be careful not to frame this as construction workers are all using drugs and are using them on the job because that’s not what the data would suggest,” Ompad added. “These are hard-working people that are building our cities and towns.”