Substance Abuse in the Mining Industry

Bellagio In The Desert Residential Treatment Center


Mining work is honorable, yet it’s also a hazardous and physically demanding work environment. The hours are long, the conditions are hazardous, and the workload is always full. 

For mine workers, spending each day performing strenuous and dangerous tasks can adversely affect mental health and result in physical pain. Because of this, employees in the mining industry may find themselves turning to substance use. They use it as a way to alleviate stress and self-medicate for their pain.

Substance Abuse Among Miners

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 300,00  employees make up the mining industry. Typically classified as “extraction occupations,” these numbers include quarrying, mining, oil, and gas extraction and metal operators. 

Within the mining industry, the number of fatalities have dropped steadily within the last few decades. However, injuries remain a constant concern. The lost-time injury rate, for example, remains fairly consistent from a rate of 1.64 in 2017 to 1.42 in 2020.

The Mining Industry: Substance Use Statistics 

A report details the prevalence of substance use of employees in all industries — including mining workers. According to the report: 

  • Approximately 12% of employees self-reported alcohol or substance dependence within the last year. 
  • About 1% of employees self-reported having an opioid use disorder
  • Roughly 17.5% of employees self-reported using alcohol heavily at least once in the past month in the past month
  • Illicit drug use within the past month was self-reported by 5% of workers.
  • In the mining industry, the rate of heavy alcohol use was twice that of other full-time workers in the U.S. 
  • The mining industry ranks as third highest of all industries when it comes to substance abuse disorders.

Other data compiled by the Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association (SAPAA) discovered that the mining industry’s rate of illicit drug dependence and abuse was 3.3%. This number was higher than that of the national average (2.6%). The mining industry also showed higher rates of heavy alcohol use (13.3%), which is also above the national average (2.6%). 

In light of the data, it’s not surprising that substance abuse among mining employees is a cause for concern.

Opioid Abuse Among Mine Workers

Data from the National Safety Council indicate that 1 in 100 mining employees report an opioid disorder. This number  is higher than the national average. Sadly, employees in the extraction industry have the highest overdose deaths for both natural and semi-synthetic opioid drugs. 

Extraction work often includes physically grueling and hazardous work, resulting in high rates of injury. In an effort to reduce their pain, injured miners may take prescription opioid medication, thereby raising their opioid addiction risk.

We Accept Most Major Insurance

Group 26
Group 25

Alcohol Abuse Among Mine Workers

The most abused substance within the mining industry is alcohol. This is  indicated by a higher rate of alcohol abuse among miners than the general population. Alcohol is seen as a way to relieve stress and bond with co-workers in many work environments. The mining industry is no different. 

However, mining and extraction jobs are generally more dangerous and demanding than other types of labor. Making it more likely that workers will seek alcohol to relieve stress and unwind – opening the door for alcohol abuse.

Opioid Abuse Among Mine Workers

The mining industry includes a variety of unique factors that raise the risk for addiction. While there exists an undeniable genetic and familial link when it comes to addiction, environmental factors also have a significant influence. For the mining industry, a few of primary factors contributing to addiction among miners are: 

  • Social pressure to drink alcohol or abuse substances. The mining industry is a heavily male-dominated work environment. This environment values teamwork and camaraderie, making heavy social pressure a risk factor for substance use. 
  • Chronic stress and mental strain stemming from dangerous, yet monotonous, work. The unique combination of high-risk, yet repetitive, work increases the desire to seek substances to both relieve stress and discover something new.
  • Drug availability within the mining community itself. A culture of heavy drinking and illicit drug use may be accepted and commonplace, increasing the risk for addiction within the mining industry.

The mining occupation is undoubtedly a hazardous and stressful industry. Which may cause workers to seek alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. And over time, miners using drugs may become addicted.

How Mining Injuries Contribute to Drug Use Among Mine Workers

According to an article review in the American Journal of Public Health, occupations with the highest levels of physically demanding work – and lowest levels of access to paid sick leave –  typically have higher opioid overdose rates. These occupations include employees within the mining and construction industries. 

  • Close to 57% of opioid overdose deaths occur after an injury at work. 
  • About 13% of overdose deaths occurred within 3 years after a work injury.

Physically demanding jobs, like mining, may lead to frequent work injuries, some of them permanent. Workers may resort to using substances to self-medicate and relieve pain. Mining employees may also find themselves becoming physically dependent on opioids during medical treatment for their injuries.

Work Schedule  

Mining workers typically work in distant locations, away from their loved ones and healthy social support. Furthermore, miners usually have grueling schedules – working 12 hours shifts with many opportunities for overtime. Working long strenuous hours away from family can raise the risk for substance abuse in miners. Especially in an environment where heavy alcohol and illicit substance use is accepted.

Addiction Treatment Options for Miners

The mining industry is a stressful environment.  And the industry’s work culture places its employees at a higher risk for alcohol and substance abuse. To successfully treat miners for substance abuse, it’s vital to take their unique needs into consideration. Addressing work-related injuries, improving positive coping skills, and managing work-related stress are essential for recovery, especially in the case of mine workers. 

Bellagio In The Desert Residential Treatment Center provides safe, supportive, and individualized inpatient treatment for all occupations. We understand the mining industry’s unique environment and keep every client’s unique needs in mind. 

Our experienced staff offer contemporary therapeutic techniques like detox, group therapy , and individual therapy. Combined with a 12-step program, the Bellagio ensures our clients have the tools they need to overcome their substance abuse. Contact us today to start your journey to recovery!