Substance abuse takes many forms and sometimes it impacts the lives of career professionals. The National Institutes on Health (1) report that white-collar jobs often cause a large amount of stress and strain on professional workers. Due to the high level of stress, temptations to abuse drugs or alcohol arise. Professional employees in high paying jobs face a risk of substance abuse.

What is a White Collar Job?

The Dictionary (2) defines a white-collar job as any professional position. In most cases, the work takes place in an office or a professional setting and workers usually wear business formal, business casual or uniforms to their place of work. White-collar careers include:

  • Medical professionals like a doctor, nurse or nurse practitioner
  • Finance or banking professionals
  • Clerical workers, such as an accountant
  • Technical professionals, such as a computer programmer or tech support in an office
  • Any office worker

Professional employees work in an office, a medical facility or a cubicle throughout their work day. Generally, a white-collar worker has a higher education and potentially obtains a Doctorate.

Substance Abuse Among White-Collar Workers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (3) says that almost 7 percent of young male workers and almost 5 percent of young female workers abuse drugs or alcohol at work. When young workers abuse drugs or alcohol at work, it interferes with their productivity and increases the risk of injury at work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (4), alcohol abuse causes almost $134 billion in lost productivity each year. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (5) reports that illicit drug abuse costs almost $181 billion each year in lost wages, lost productivity and medical costs.

Although the overall costs to society and a place of work depend on several factors, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (6) reports that young professionals in white-collar jobs often abuse prescription medications. In particular, young professionals abuse ADHD medications and prescription pain relievers.

The Business Insider (7) says that Wall Street professionals have a long history of substance abuse and modern professionals abuse Adderall and Molly. Med Scape (8) says that medical professional often abuse prescription pain relievers or other prescription medications due to the availability of the substance. Almost 69 percent of medical professionals in a survey reported substance abuse or addiction, says Med Scape (8). The National Institutes on Health (9) report that almost 10 to 15 percent of all medical professionals will abuse prescription drugs at least one time in their career.

Seeking Treatment

Working in a white-collar job does not prevent substance abuse. Taking on a professional job causes a high level of stress and it increases the risk of prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse raises health concerns and it can harm your physical body and your emotional well-being. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (6) suggests that some individuals commit suicide or engage in risky behaviors after abusing prescription drugs.

When a loved one encourages treatment, consider his or her concerns. Abusing prescription medications increases your risk of severe health problems and it contributes to lost wages, lost promotions and job loss. A treatment program helps you work through the addiction and start obtaining your recovery goals.

Obtaining a job in a white-collar position does not reduce your risk of substance abuse. Self-medicating or abusing legitimate prescription medications harms your health and impacts the way that you behave in the office. Professional treatment helps you recovery and regain your health.


  1. Bourbonnais R., Brisson C., Moisan J., and Vezina M., Job Strain and Psychological Stress in White-Collar Workers, The National Institutes on Health, April 22, 1996,,
  2. White-Collar,,,
  3. Philip M. Gleason, Jonathon R. Veum, and Michael R. Pergamit, Drug and Alcohol Use at Work: A Survey of Young Workers, The Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 1991,,
  4. Alcohol and Substance Misuse, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 23, 2013,,
  5. Addiction Science: From Molecules to Managed Care, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, July 2008,,
  6. Paul Raeburn, Sciam Blogger on NY Times: “Yet Another Harrowing Story of White Collar Addiction”, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, February 6, 2013,,
  7. Linette Lopez and Mike Nudelman, Drug Use on Wall Street: The History, Business Insider, January 14, 2014, -street–the-history-2014-1,
  8. Shelly Reese, Drug Abuse Among Doctors: Easy, Tempting, and Not Uncommon, Med Scape, January 19, 2014,,
  9. Baldissery M.R., Impaired Healthcare Professional, The National Institutes on Health, February 2007,

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