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Substance Use in the Construction Industry: A Comparison of Assessment Methods

NCJ Number
Substance Use and Misuse Volume: 37 Issue: 11 Dated: September 2002 Pages: 1331-1358
Rebekah K. Hersch Ph.D.; Tracy L. McPherson M.S.; Royer F. Cook Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2002
28 pages
This article discusses the nature and extent of drug use among construction industry workers.
Focusing on adults employed within the construction industry, this article discusses the nature and extent of illicit drug use among workers. After introducing the fact that the largest majority of illicit drug users in the United States are working adults, the authors describe the methods used in this research. Designed to compare self-reported drug use and 2 types of bioassays on current and recent use of illicit drugs in a sample of construction workers, this study interviewed construction workers from a pool of 445 workers, comprising 6 groups, located in the southeastern United States. Participation in this study was voluntary and workers were allowed to pick and choose which parts of the study they wished to participate in including baseline data collection, a self-reporting survey, and hair and urine analyses. Results indicate that 16.9 percent of participants reported drug use in the past 30 days, finding the highest rates of drug use among carpenters, painters, and plumbers and the lowest rates among company-based workers. Drug use rates were also associated with participant characteristics with younger, single workers having higher rates of drug use than married workers and those earning more than $30,000 a year. The authors conclude that hair analysis, in particular, is an important research tool for the assessment of drug use prevalence when used in conjunction with self-reporting. Tables, references