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Study: 1 in 12 Workers Admits Using Illegal Drugs

Study: 1 in 12 Workers Admits Using Illegal Drugs

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingThe government's taking a fresh look at American workers and drug use. According to the findings, one in 12 full-time workers acknowledges having used illegal drugs in the past month.

When it comes to illegal drugs and alcohol abuse, super-models and movie stars may come to mind. But the most illegal drug use and heavy drinking is not found in the tabloids.

Substance use in the workforce by workers is a serious problem. It is found among full-time workers, friends or colleagues who may be working in the next cubicle. In fact, a new federal survey says one in 12 full-time workers uses illicit drugs or drinks heavily.

The use is highest among restaurant and food service employees, as well as construction workers. However, teachers, police, firefighters and health care workers are also on the list.

Users are more likely to be younger -- between the ages of 18 and 25. That trend concerns addiction specialist Dr. Glen Hanson at the University of Utah. He says the younger you are when you start to use them, the more entrenched the addiction and the harder to break addictions on the other end.

"The drug has had a chance to change the brain in very basic ways, and those changes don't reverse back very quickly. In some cases they may never totally reverse back. So there is always that vulnerability that exists in the brain. Under the right circumstances, this person may relapse and go back to the drug in order to get whatever it is that the drug provides them."

Stress on the job or at home can be a significant trigger, and can keep users using.

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