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Truck Drivers with Addictions: The Statistics and Risks

There are so many truck drivers with addictions all throughout the United States, and this fact certainly is not surprising.

The stress of their jobs is something that most people can't relate to, so it makes sense that they would turn to something to help either distract them, or ease the pain they experience. For a trucker, their lives are frequently spent on the road, and even though they make a decent yearly salary, that does nothing to help with the loneliness they often feel. These are individuals who often spend more time away from their families than with their families, which only adds to their burdens.

Perhaps you're a truck driver with an addiction, and you can't help but feel as though you have no other choice than to keep on using.

You know the risks involved with that decision, but drugs or alcohol have quickly become a way that you have chosen to cope with everything you go through on a daily basis. It's so difficult when you feel stuck in that position, but what you might not know is that there is a way out for you.

Rehab for truckers is the best way for you to recover from your addiction. Maybe you've thought about getting professional help before, but it's not something you've thought about too much because you just weren't sure you could handle the time away from your job. Truck drivers often list a lot of different barriers to getting professional help. Even so, it's important for you to realize that your job may just depend on it.

Truckers and Addiction

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Statistics for Truckers

Stimulants, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine are just some of the various substances that are commonly used among truck drivers when they're on the road. Each of these drugs carries its own risks when professional drivers use them. Both alcohol and marijuana increase the risk of becoming sleepy behind the wheel, and they can also lead to decreased reaction times. Cocaine and amphetamines might help drivers stay awake, but they can also lead to dizziness, agitation and even hallucinations.

The statistics regarding addiction for commercial trucker drivers are rather eye opening, and they indicate that:

  • About half of truck drivers admitted to drinking alcohol and driving.
  • 12.5% of truckers have tested positive for alcohol when they were on the job.
  • 30% of truckers admitted to having used amphetamines to help themselves stay awake on long hauls.
  • Close to 20% of truck drivers admitted to using marijuana.
  • About 3% of truckers admitted to having used cocaine.
  • There are some studies in which drinking on the job ranged up to as high 91% of drivers.
  • Additionally, some studies stated that as many as 81% of drivers have used speed on the job.

Clearly, this is a problem that needs to be addressed, and if you are a trucker who is addicted to some type of substance, and you frequently use when you're on the road, you're certainly not alone. There are so many others who are facing similar struggles. Fortunately, help is available for you.

Reasons for Alcohol and Drug Use Among Truck Drivers

People often think of truck drivers as people who drive cargo from point A to point B, but there really is so much more to it than that. Fortunately, DOT regulations have stepped in over the years, and truckers are now limited as far as how many hours they work. However, even though drivers no longer can work 70 hours a week, and now restricted to working only 60 hours, there are many companies who will push this, and even find ways to work around it so that their drivers can be on the road longer. Most drivers are expected to cover about 125,000 miles per year, which breaks down to 500 miles per day. It's not surprising that they have so many reasons to turn to alcohol and drug use.

Some of the more common reasons why truckers turn to drugs and alcohol include:

  • Long Shifts Per Day: DOT rules allow truckers to drive for up to 14 hours per day, with one day per week at 16 hours. However, for those companies who do not have electronic log books, and still use paper logs, it is easy to change them so that the drivers can stay on the road longer.
  • Having to Spend Time Away From Their Families: Sometimes drivers will spend several weeks at a time away from their families, and this is all very individual according to what their employers require. However, for truckers who have to drive three weeks a month straight, it's very difficult for them to cope.
  • Boredom: Boredom is a very real problem for truckers, and even though they get to see the entire country, and there are scenic views everywhere, they will often get bored quickly, which leads to substance abuse.
  • Overnight Routes: Many semi-truck drivers end up with routes that require them to drive overnight, and that can be a big problem. They will often use amphetamines or other substances to help themselves stay awake when this is the case.
  • Accidental Addictions: What many people don't realize is that even though driving a truck is a fairly sedentary job, staying in one place for a long period of time is very taxing on the body. It's not surprising that truck drivers often experience physical pain in their bodies, and they do sometimes have to unload cargo, which can lead to injuries. In these cases, prescription pain medication addiction is likely.

Additionally, there are truckers who sooth their loneliness by entertaining "working girls" on the road, and sometimes these women will accept drugs as a form of payment for their services. There are many experts who believe that this fact alone is probably contributing to the high rate of drug use among commercial drivers.

Semi-Truck Drivers' Substance Abuse and Their Barriers to Treatment

Time is certainly a major barrier for many truckers, and because of the short amount of time they spend home, it can make it very difficult for them to get help for their addictions. They also may panic when they think about how life will change for them on the road. For those entertaining females during their off hours, if they're not using, they won't have the "currency" to pay them. Also, truck driving is very much like a brotherhood for a lot of truck drivers, and many of them get to know each other, and they will even spend time together using when they're off the clock.

These barriers are very real, but they are not impossible to overcome.

Addicted Truckers and Realizing You Have a Problem that Needs Treatment

Sometimes the line between addiction and substance abuse can become quite blurred, and it's not always easy to determine whether or not you are actually addicted, or if you're just participating in substance abuse. When you know the signs of addiction, it's easier to understand your own relationship to substances.

Some of the signs of alcohol addiction include:

  • Experiencing temporary memory loss or blackouts
  • Feeling the need to use alcohol to cheer up, relax, or just feel more like yourself.
  • Having arguments with your family members or friends about how much alcohol you drink.
  • Experiencing depression or mood swings.
  • Getting headaches, anxiety or insomnia when you stop drinking.
  • Preferring to drink alcohol when you're alone, or in secret.

Some of the signs of drug addiction include:

  • Feeling like you can't control how much you use at one time.
  • Neglecting your other activities or responsibilities regularly.
  • Taking serious risks in order to obtain drugs.
  • Changes in your appearance or personal hygiene.
  • Feeling the need to use larger amounts of drugs than you once did.
  • Going through drug withdrawal when you have not used in some time.

If you're still not sure whether or not you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you can take an addiction quiz that can give you a bit more insight into your own substance use patterns.

The Risks Involved for Semi-Truck Drivers Who Don't Get Addiction Help

There are a number of risks involved for truck drivers who fail to get the help they need for their addictions. The most important risk is the fact that they put their lives at stake. They are also putting the lives of every other driver on the road at stake, and even though they are professionals, they are just as likely to get into a deadly accident if they use and drive.

Their careers are also at stake, and because of the stricter DOT guidelines, professional truck drivers have to adhere to standards that are much higher than those for the average driver. When truckers test positive for drugs or alcohol, they have a high risk of losing their licenses.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Truck Drivers: How it Can Help You

Going to drug or alcohol treatment for truckers can help you more than you realize, and although it will mean taking some time away from work, that's nothing compared to the importance of saving your life, others' lives, and your career.

When you go to treatment, you'll probably be recommended for a thirty-day rehab program that will start with detox. This is a process that will prepare you for rehabilitation by addressing the physical side of your addiction. Ongoing treatment is always recommended for someone with an addiction, and this is so important in order to maintain your sobriety.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab for Truckers: It Could Save Your Life and Your Job

If you are an addicted truck driver, every day that you use, you're putting your life and countless other lives at risk. Regardless of what type of substance you're using, you may think you have it completely under your control, but the truth is that alcohol or drugs most likely took control of you a long time ago. Getting professional help is the best way for you to arrest your addictive behaviors so that you can begin to focus on living a life of recovery. There are so many great benefits for you to experience once you make the decision to stop using.

At Northpoint Recovery, we strive to provide addiction treatment for truckers that meets them where they are.

We understand the stress that you face on a daily basis, and we also know that it's not easy for you to go through the recovery process. The issues you face are unique to you and to your profession, which is why we've designed our program to meet your specific needs. We've been able to help many other truck drivers to experience the freedom they wanted from their addictions, and we're confident that we can do the same for you as well.

Would you like to know more about drug and alcohol treatment for truck drivers? If so, please contact us today.