boston.com Business your connection to The Boston Globe

Report: 1 in 12 workers use drugs

Restaurant staffers at top of federal list

WASHINGTON -- One in 12 full-time US workers acknowledges having used illegal drugs in the past month, the government reports.

The highest rates were among restaurant workers, 17.4 percent, and construction workers, 15.1 percent, according to a federal study. About 4 percent of teachers and social service workers reported using illegal drugs in the past month.

Federal officials said the survey is a snapshot and was not designed to show whether illicit drug usage in the workplace is growing or declining. The current usage rate is 8.2 percent. Government surveys reflected a usage rate of 7.6 percent in 1994 and 7.7 percent in 1997, but those studies involved a much smaller sample.

The latest study comes from the Health and Human Services Department. The data are drawn from surveys in 2002, 2003, and 2004 of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. Each survey included interviews with more than 40,000 people. Joe Gfroerer, an agency official, said most of the illicit drug use involved marijuana.

Anne Skinstad, a researcher and clinical psychologist, called the survey's results "very worrisome," because there are fewer treatment programs than there used to be to assist employees and employers.

Testing programs for drug use are common, however, with 48.8 percent of full-time workers telling the government their employers test for drug use.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES