Construction trade and extraction workers: A population at high risk for drug use in the United States, 2005–2014

Danielle C. Ompad, Robyn R. Gershon, Simon Sandh, Patricia Acosta, Joseph J. Palamar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To estimate prevalence of past-month marijuana, cocaine, and nonmedical prescription opioid (NPO) use and determine employment-related correlates of drug use among construction trade/extraction workers (CTEW). Methods: We analyzed ten years of data (2005–2014) from 293,492 adults (age≥18) in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, comparing CTEW and non-CTEW. Results: CTEW were 5.6% (n = 16,610) of the sample. Compared to non-CTEW, CTEW were significantly more likely to report past-month marijuana (12.3% vs. 7.5%), cocaine (1.8% vs. 0.8%), and/or NPO use (3.4% vs. 2.0%; Ps<.001). Among CTEW, past-week unemployment and working for >3 employers was associated with increased odds of marijuana and NPO use. Missing 1–2 days in the past month because the participant did not want to go into work was associated with increased odds for use of marijuana, cocaine, and NPO use. Missing 3–5 days of work in the past month because sick or injured was associated with double the odds (aOR = 2.00 [95% CI: 1.33–3.02]) of using NPO. 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. Conclusions: CTEW are a high-risk population for drug use. Precarious employment is associated with higher prevalence of drug use while some workplace drug policies were associated with lower prevalence. Coupled with reports of high overdose mortality among CTEW, these findings suggest that prevention and harm reduction programming is needed to prevent drug-related morbidity and mortality among CTEW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107640
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Cocaine
  • Construction workers
  • Drug use
  • Extraction workers
  • Marijuana
  • Nonmedical prescription opioid use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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