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Painkiller Abuse in the Construction Industry

Opioid Crisis in the Construction Industry
Studies have shown that construction workers are at higher risk for opioid abuse because of work-related injuries.

Being a construction worker can be extremely rewarding. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie to work, you get paid well and you play a big role in giving people safe roads to drive on and sturdy buildings to live and work in.

However, there are also downsides to being in a blue-collar job. One challenge, in particular, is how dangerous your work can be. In fact, the construction, mining and extraction sectors are all at high risk of injuries and fatalities because of the nature of the work involved. And high injury rates mean increased use of painkillers and the risk of opioid addiction.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the painkiller use throughout the construction industry, pain management alternatives and how The Raleigh House can help you get the treatment and rehabilitation you need.

Why Construction Workers are at Higher Risk of Opioid Addiction

A New York University study that was published in the journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, sought to examine the abuse of opioids and other drugs by those within the construction industry. After digging through a decade of data (2005-2014), researchers found that construction, mining and extraction workers reported significantly higher rates of opioid abuse than respondents from all other industries and business sectors.

On the surface, these results don’t come off as surprising. After all, manual labor is naturally more dangerous than working from an office and crunching numbers all day. But there’s a deeper story behind why construction workers are more likely to experience painkiller addiction:

  • Construction workers experience chronic pain. When construction workers suffer an injury on the job, they oftentimes face long-term and chronic pain that gets treated with prescription painkillers. This ongoing opioid use can easily turn into an addiction if not handled properly.
  • Painkillers are the first line of defense for chronic pain. A major reason the opioid crisis is where it’s at today is because of the way doctors have overprescribed opioids. Health professionals were led to believe opioids like OxyContin weren’t addictive, so they were seen as the easiest and most effective solution to chronic pain.
  • Employer drug policies haven’t focused enough on opioids. Workplace drug policies that include random drug testing and drug testing during the hiring process have focused primarily on marijuana use. In other words, there hasn’t been enough harm reduction or opioid abuse prevention policies and programs in place to protect construction workers.
  • Construction workers oftentimes face unstable work. It’s common for construction workers to work for multiple employers at once or go through spurts without a job. This burnout and instability can lead to increased stress that can drive opioid use.
  • When injured, construction workers face unemployment. Construction workers rely on their physical ability to make a living. If they’re injured, they have a harder time getting work and living off worker’s compensation. This can cause a great deal of stress that triggers additional opioid use, especially if they’re already on painkillers for chronic pain.

Pain Management Alternatives to Opioids

Of course, painkillers can be safe and effective for relieving pain when the prescription is followed carefully. But there are also other ways to help manage chronic pain without relying solely on opioids and risking abusing them.

These alternative methods of pain management include:

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can help you explore stretches and exercises that specifically target where you’re hurting and rehabilitate you after an injury.


Yoga practice can help relax you, improve your muscle strength and flexibility after an injury, and even protect you from future injuries and pain.


Science has suggested that acupuncture works by either releasing pain-numbing chemicals in the body or by somehow blocking pain signals from your nerves. Either way, acupuncture has been shown to help relieve chronic pain.

Visiting a Chiropractor

Just like a physical therapist can help you relieve pain, a chiropractor is specifically trained to perform spinal manipulation. This may be a good option if you’ve struggled with chronic back pain.


Meditation and mindfulness practices relax your mind and body and keeps you focused on the present moment. Regular meditation may be able to help adjust your mind’s response to pain, which can then lower the amount of pain you actually feel.

Opioid Addiction Treatment at The Raleigh House

Physical labor is your way of life. It helps you put food on the table, it’s rewarding, and it even helps you stay in shape. But the chronic pain from a current or previous injury has been too much to handle and your days revolve around painkillers.

This is no way to live. And fortunately, you don’t have to with proper addiction treatment.

At The Raleigh House, we are well-aware of the destruction caused by the opioid crisis and we have over 10 years of experience fighting back and helping people like you get back on their feet again.

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It all comes down to our effective and holistic continuum of care approach. If you’re struggling with an addiction that requires full-time treatment, we’ll guide you through a safe and controlled detox at our state-of-the-art wellness lodge that’s located just outside of Denver.

Then, you’ll transition to our residential treatment program at our wellness lodge. Getting away from your regular environment and being surrounded by nothing but mountains and open land will give you an opportunity to solely focus on your recovery. You’ll participate in individual and group therapy sessions, experience holistic treatments like equine therapy, art therapy and rock climbing, and eat healthy, pro-recovery meals to strengthen your mind and body again.

Once you’ve completed residential treatment, you’ll enter our outpatient program where you’ll continue your treatment and begin transitioning back to every-day life. If deemed appropriate, you may even be able to directly enter outpatient treatment, so you don’t have to take time off of work.

Ultimately, our goal is to help you break free from opioid addiction, develop healthier ways of managing your chronic pain and return to work refreshed and better than ever.

Find Lasting Recovery from Opioid Addiction at The Raleigh House

Opioid abuse doesn’t have to be a consequence of being a construction worker. There is hope for recovery and it’s important that you remember how much you deserve to recover and live an addiction-free and pain-free life again.

If you’re ready to defeat your addiction, we are ready to guide you along your entire treatment and recovery journey. Fill out our form or contact us today to get in touch with one of our friendly admissions team members.

Call Now: 720-891-4657

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