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Chapter 6 The Drug Culture at the Work Place PDF Print E-mail
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Books - The Working Addict
Written by David Caplovitz   

Most people carry out their work in some kind of a social setting --- a factory, a store, a hospital, a school, an office --- in which they have social relationships with other people, e.g. co-workers, supervisors, customers and clients. To what extent is on the job drug use part of a drug culture that has intruded on the work place? Were the working addicts we interviewed so discrete that none of their co-workers knew of their drug habit? If more than one addict worked for the same firm, did they keep their secret from each other? Or did drugs become a part of the patterns of sociability at work to the point where a drug culture might be said to have penetrated the work place? This chapter deals with this issue. We know whether our respondents knew if any of their co-workers were addicts, whether their co-workers and bosses knew about their addiction and their attitudes toward the addict if they did know. And we know whether drugs were bought and sold at the work place, and whether the people we interviewed started to use certain drugs for the first time at work, that is, whether the work place is ever the breeding ground for the drug habit. As we shall see from an examination of this information, drug cultures have indeed emerged at many places of work. Not only is the individual addict able to work while addicted to drugs, but his habit and those of his co-workers have generated a drug culture that has somehow become integrated into the work place.

The Incidence of Drug Users at Work

The respondents were asked several questions about drug use by their co-workers: how many of the people in their section of the firm were addicts and how many of all the employees of the firm were addicts; how many of the people in their section and how many in the whole firm smoked marijuana at work. Unfortunately, these questions failed to differentiate the respondent from the others. Many respondents included themselves when answering, while others interpreted the questions to mean people other then themselves. Thus in some instances, the interviewers recorded a "zero" in the response category, meaning no other users and in other instances, the interviewers entered a "one" meaning only the respondent. We have thus treated the response "zero" as identical to the response "one" signifying the respondent as the only addict. This decision undoubtedly means that we have underestimated the instances of other addicts, for in some instances the entry "one" no doubt meant another addict in addition to the respondent. With this caveat in mind, we present in Table 6.1 the frequencies for each of these questions.

Before examining the distributions, notice should be taken of the base figures. The respondents were not nearly as likely to have such information about the entire firm as they were about the section in which they worked; hence, many fewer answered the questions about the total firm. But even the questions about the sections could not be answered by all the respondents primarily because some of the respondents had jobs that did not involve working in sections of companies, such as window cleaners, or doormen, or dog walkers. Also, it must be kept in mind that there was considerable variation in the size of the firm for which these addicts worked, with size ranging from 36 persons to over 45,000, with 2,470 as the average firm size. We have not bothered to standardize the frequency questions by taking into account the size of the firm or the size of the section, although some addicts worked in such small sections or firms that not more than a handful of others could have been users, and others worked in such large firms that even ten or more addicts might go largely unnoticed in the crowd. Nonetheless, the absolute frequency distributions shown in Table 6.1 are of considerable interest. In most of the firms, the respondent was the only drug addict. This was true of 72 per cent of the work sections and 60 per cent of the firms. By the same token, in 28 per cent of the cases, the addict had at least one fellow addict in his work section and in 40 per cent of the cases, the addict knew of at least one other person who was an addict in his firm. Some 12 per cent of the respondents reported that one other person in their section was also an addict, 12 per cent knew of two to six other addicts in their section and 3 per cent (14 persons) reported that there were ten or more addicts in their section. As expected, the respondents reported substantially more addicts in the total firm than in their own section. In 22 per cent of the cases, there were at least three other addicts working for the firm and in 9 per cent, there were 10 or more addicts employed by the firm. These are rather startling figures. If the working addicts we interviewed were employed in firms representative of New York City's industries, then more than one out of every five firms employs at least four addicts and one out of every ten employs at least ten addicts.

Pot smoking turns out to be quite common in the work place. Almost half of the addicts reported at least one other marijuana smoker besides themselves in their work section and more than half reported at least one other in the entire firm. A third of the addicts reported at least two other persons besides themselves smoked pot in their work section, and almost half of the addicts worked in firms where at least two others besides themselves smoked marijuana on the job. The national figures on marijuana use show a dramatic increase in users over the past decade or so. We now know that marijuana smoking is so common that more than half of the firms in New York have employees who smoke pot on the job.

These questions about drug users on the job are all related to each other. If the respondent reported addicts in his work section, he was almost sure to report additional addicts in the rest of the company and the more addicts in the company, the more the number who smoked pot in both the section and the whole firm. But use of hard drugs, particularly heroin, is quite different from smoking pot, which has become rather chic in many circles and for this reason we shall analyze the prevalence of hard drug users and marijuana smokers separately. The question about users in the section has been combined with the question about users in the company for both hard drugs and for marijuana. And the tables to be presented show the per cent who report other addicts and pot smokers at their place of work.

Social Characteristics of Respondents and Drug Users at Work

The first question to be considered is whether certain kinds of addicts migrate to work settings in which there are other drug users. Is there any connection between the social characteristics of the addicts in our sample and having work colleagues who use drugs? The answer is yes, for a number of social characteristics, such as sex, age, education and religion are related to the frequency of drug users at the work place. For example, men are much more likely than women to have work colleagues who are also addicts and who smoke pot. Thus, almost half the men, 46 per cent, reported at least one other co-worker was an addict compared with 29 per cent of the women and 59 per cent of the men reported that co-workers smoked pot on the job compared with 40 per cent of the women. The addicts under 25 were somewhat more likely than those over 25 to have work associates who were also addicts and much more likely to have work associates who smoked pot (Table 6.2).

As can be seen from the top row, the age pattern is somewhat irregular, with the critical distinction between those under 25 and those over 25. About half of the addicts under 25 managed to find a place of work in which at least one other person was an addict, whereas only a third or two-fifths of the older addicts had a fellow addict among their work colleagues. Marijuana smoking in the work place is much more closely associated with age. As the age of the addict drops, the per cent who worked in settings where pot was smoked steadily increases.

The education of the respondent turns out to be negatively related to having co-workers who are addicts but positively related to having co-workers who smoke pot, as can be seen from Table 6.3.

The poorly educated are more likely to be employed in firms with other addicts than the well educated, but the reverse is true for the prevalence of pot smoking at work. The better educated are attracted to work settings in which pot smoking is fashionable. This probably reflects the widespread acceptability of pot smoking among the well educated in America. In industries that require well educated employees such as the mass media, advertising, publishing, banking and insurance, the more mildly deviant drug abuse of marijuana smoking is apt to be prevalent.

Religion is another social characteristic linked to the presence of other drug users at work. Protestants are more likely than Catholics to have co-workers who are also addicts, 49 per cent compared with 39 per cent, and Jews are least likely to report co-workers who are addicts, 23 per cent. As for co-workers who are pot smokers, there is no difference between Protestants and Catholics (about 55 per cent of both groups say that pot smoking goes on where they worked), but Jews again were least likely to say that their co-workers engaged in this practice with 45 per cent answering affirmatively. Ethnicity turns out to be another characteristic yielding quite different patterns for the two drug questions. Blacks were somewhat more likely than whites and Puerto Ricans to report co-workers who were addicts but they were least likely to report co-workers who smoked pot, as can be seen from Table 6.4.

Whereas blacks are most likely to report other addicts among their co-workers, it is the whites who are most likely to report pot smoking by their colleagues at work, a finding in keeping with the earlier patterns on education.

Job Characteristics and Drug Users at Work

Were addicts employed in certain kinds of occupations and industries more likely to have co-workers who used drugs? Contrary to what we might have expected, occupation is not related to having co-workers who used drugs, with the exception that those employed in lower white collar occupations, clerical and sales workers, were least likely to report addicts or pot smokers among their co-workers but the difference was not large in either instance and the other occupations were quite similar to each other. But if occupation is not related to drug use by co-workers, industry is. Government employees were much more likely to report fellow addicts among their co-workers than addicts employed in any other industry, and the government employees also led in reports of pot smokers among their colleagues. In second place are those employed in manufacturing and at the bottom are those who worked in retailing. These data are shown in Table 6.5.

Unlike several of the previous tables, the patterns in this one are much the same for addict co-workers and pot smoking co-workers. In each instance, the government employees are in front, closely followed by manufacturing employees and retailing is at the bottom, closely followed by other blue collar industries. Why government bureaucracies should be such a haven for addicts and pot smokers is by no means clear. Perhaps this reflects the difficulty of dismissing civil servants, or perhaps it reflects greater tolerance and permissiveness in the public sector of employment. One other work characteristic shows a slight relationship to drug use on the job, and that is the measure of how strenuous the work is. Respondents whose jobs were not at all strenuous were somewhat less likely to report addicts and pot smokers among their co-workers, but these differences were only on the order of six percentage points.

Drug Characteristics and Drug Users at Work

In previous chapters we have examined two measures of the addict's drug world, the extent to which he was involved in drugs, as measured by the number of drugs he used, the amount he spent on drugs and whether he used drugs at work, and the extent to which his drug habit had an impact on his job. Both of these measures of drug involvement are related to having colleagues who used drugs. Table 6.6 shows the connection between drug involvement and having co-workers who used drugs.

As the addict's involvement with drugs increases, so does the likelihood that some of his co-workers are addicts and smoke pot.

This clearly would suggest that the addict's own involvement with drugs is linked to the drug behavior of his co-workers. Presumably the drug users among his work colleagues stimulate the addict to become more deeply involved in drugs. This conclusion is born out by the data in Table 6.7 which links the index of the impact of drugs on the job to having colleagues who use drugs.

 

Both having fellow addicts as co-workers and having pot smoking co-workers are related to how much the addict's own habit affects his job. The more drug using colleagues, the greater the impact of the addict's own habit on his job, again strong evidence of the social underpinnings of addiction and drug use. As in Table 6.6, the association is much stronger for pot smoking than for having addicts as colleagues. Pot smoking is no doubt a much more social activity than using heroin. Addicts are apt to go off by themselves to the restroom to use heroin, whereas pot smoking very much involves passing the joint from one smoker to another. The chances of getting high and having drugs affect work performance is probably greater for the on the job pot smoker than for the on or off the job heroin user. In any event, the data of Table 6.7 support this conclusion.

The Visibility of the Addict's Habit

We have seen that at least 40 per cent of the working addicts knew of at least one other addict at their place of work. This indicates that addicts in the same firm manage to communicate with each other about their habit. But how public this knowledge is at the work place is another matter. It might well be that addicts, because they belong to the same deviant culture of drugs, are able to communicate in subtle ways that nonaddicts do not understand. If so, then addicts might
manage to keep their secret hidden from their nonaddict co-workers. The extent to which the addict's habit becomes public knowledge known to co-workers and bosses can be examined with the data on hand. The respondents were asked if their bosses knew they were using drugs and how many of their co-workers knew that they were on drugs.

The addict's habit is by no means a closely guarded secret unknown to straight people, for some 30 per cent of the addicts reported that their bosses knew they were on drugs. The true percentage might well be higher in that some addicts probably were unaware that their bosses knew of their habit. As for co-workers, fully 62 per cent of the respondents claimed that other people at their job, apart from bosses, knew of their drug habit. This is substantially more than the number reporting other addicts in their firm and thus it is clear that many nonaddict co-workers knew of the addict's habit. Some 27 per cent of the sample reported that one or two co-workers knew about their habit, 20 per cent said that three to five co-workers knew and 15 per cent reported that six or more knew.

That almost a third of the addicts worked in settings where their bosses knew of their drug habit and almost two-thirds in settings where co-workers knew, forces an additional revision in the stereotype of working addicts. Not only are addicts able to hold on to jobs and perform them adequately in spite of their addiction, but many of them have come out of the closet in that their co-workers and bosses know of their habit. Apparently, there is greater tolerance of the addict in the work place than the stereotype allows for. (We shall soon confront this matter of tolerance directly.)

Since the question about the boss knowing is strongly correlated with the question about co-workers knowing, we could have combined these items into an index of the visibility of the addict's habit, but these items did not always relate in the same way to other variables and thus, in the subsequent analysis, we keep them separate. It is not surprising that knowledge of the addict's habit was much greater in work settings in which there were other people using drugs. The greater the drug problem at work as measured by the number of addicts and marijuana smokers, the more visible the addict to his fellow workers and employer. This can be seen from Table 6.8.

The import of Table 6.8 is that addicts who are pretty much alone as users are much more likely to keep their habit a secret than addicts who work with other addicts and drug users generally. Once the addict finds some social support for his habit among co-workers similarly addicted, his secret is likely to emerge and become public knowledge. (The one deviant pattern is that the boss's knowledge is unrelated to the frequency of marijuana use.)

Social Characteristics and Visibility at Work

In the previous section we saw that addicts with certain social characteristics were more likely to work in establishments with other addicts. This suggests that certain kinds of addicts migrate to work settings where they will find fellow deviants. If visibility of the addict's habit is linked to his social characteristics then we might suppose that this is an artifact of the connection between social characteristics and having co-workers as addicts since, as Table 6.8 shows, having addict co-workers contributes to visibility. This chain of reasoning might well explain why the men in our sample were more likely than the women to report that their bosses and co-workers knew of their habit, since men were much more likely to have co-workers who were also addicts. But having co-workers who are addicts does not explain many of the associations between social characteristics and visibility for the simple reason that the patterns differ for frequency of addicts and visibility of addiction. For example, on the matter of religion, we saw that Protestants were more likely than either Jews or Catholics to have co-workers who were addicts, and Catholics more so than Jews. But when asked whether their boss knew they were addicted, the pattern is completely reversed. Now the Protestants are least likely to say yes (only 16 per cent) and the Jews are most likely to say yes (47 per cent), with the Catholics in between (35 per cent). Similarly, ethnicity was not strongly related to working with other addicts and pot smokers, but ethnicity is related to visibility. Whites were more likely than blacks and Puerto Ricans to say that their bosses knew about their addiction, as can be seen from Table 6.9.

Although the whites lead the blacks and Puerto Ricans with regard to co-workers knowing as well, the difference is rather small. Much more pronounced is the pattern for the boss knowing. More than twice as many whites as blacks said their boss knew about their habit and the gap is almost as great between the whites and Puerto Ricans. The reason for this finding is not at all obvious. Perhaps whites felt more secure in their jobs and were therefore not as discrete as nonwhites about their habit. Or perhaps the whites were more likely to seek help from their employers with regard to their habit. Although age was related to working with other addicts and pot smokers, it is not related to the visibility of the addict's habit, nor is education, another characteristic related to working with drug users. In short, we have found a rather different constellation of social characteristics to be related to visibility than to frequency of drug users.

Work Characteristics and Visibility

Addicts who worked in certain types of occupations were much more likely to have their addiction known to their bosses and co-workers than addicts in other types of occupations. The addicts who were craftsmen were particularly likely to have their addiction known to others at work, whereas the lower white collar workers were least likely to have their habit known at work. For bosses, the craftsmen visibility rate was 42 per cent and for co-workers, 74 per cent. In contrast, among the lower white collar workers only 24 per cent said their bosses knew of their habit, and only 55 per cent said that their co-workers knew. The other occupational categories fell in between these extremes. One interpretation of this difference rests upon the skill level of the occupation. Craftsmen are highly skilled workers of great value to their employers. Their skill level probably protects their' job even when their employer learns about their addiction. In contrast, lower white collar workers are relatively unskilled, with little job security and, for this reason, addicts in such occupations probably go to great lengths to hide their addiction.

When industry is related to the visibility of the addict's habit to his boss and colleagues, the results for government employees differ from those of addicts employed in other industries. Government employees were least likely to say that their boss knew of their habit, 24 per cent compared with 34 per cent of those employed in other blue collar industries, 30 per cent of those employed in retailing and 26 per cent of those employed in manufacturing and other white collar industries. But when it comes to co-workers knowing, the government employees were much more likely to answer affirmatively than those in other industries, 74 per cent compared with 57 per cent to 62 per cent of those in other industries. Why should addicts employed by government agencies share knowledge of their habit with co-workers more than those in any other industry and at the same time hide this knowledge from employers more successfully than those in other industries? Is this some kind of statement about government employment as fostering conspiracies of co-workers against their bosses?

One other characteristic of the addict's job turns out to be related to visibility of his habit and that is his income. The more money the addict earned the more likely was his boss and his co-workers to know of his habit. This pattern is consistent for co-workers' knowledge and is evident for boss's knowledge as well, as can be seen from Table 6.10.

The meaning of the findings shown in Table 6.10 is by no means clear. Craftsmen tend to earn more than those in other occupations and we have seen that their habit is most likely to be known to others at work, a finding that we suggested might have something to do with their greater job security. Perhaps job security is behind the income pattern as well. Those who earn a great deal probably have more secure skilled jobs than those who are poorly paid and perhaps this explains why they allow their co-workers to learn of their habit.

Drug Involvement and Visibility

We have seen that those who were more involved in drugs and permitted their habit to affect their work were more likely to work with other addicts. It turns out that their addiction was also more visible to their co-workers, as can be seen from the two parts of Table 6.11.

The strong associations between visibility and drug involvement and drug impact on work are not surprising. Those addicts who use drugs at work and have a heavy habit are not as likely to be successful in hiding their habit as those with weaker habits. Similarly, addicts whose work performances are affected by their taking drugs, for example, those who get high during the workday or fall asleep on the job, are much more likely to have their irregular behavior come to the attention of their colleagues and bosses than those whose habit has little impact on their work performance. In sum, addicts who work with other addicts, who are so dependent on drugs that they take drugs during the working day and get high on the job, are the very ones whose habit becomes visible to their co-workers and superiors. But what are the costs of such visibility? How do their bosses and co-workers who know of their habit feel about it? It is to this question that we turn to now.
 

The Attitudes of Work Associates Toward the Addict's Habit

We have seen that 30 per cent of the addicts reported that their bosses knew they were using drugs. What was the attitude of bosses toward the addicts' habit? Did they disapprove? Did they tolerate the addiction? Or did they actually condone the habit and even lend moral support to the addict? In fact, all three of these reactions occurred with relatively similar frequencies. Some 32 per cent of those who said their boss knew reported that he disapproved of their habit, and in the great majority of these instances, the disapproval took the form of being fired. Thus 35 of the 52 people who reported disapproval said they were fired. In 5 cases, the boss told the addict to stop working until he licked his habit but that he could then have his job back, and in 11 cases the boss did nothing but was very upset. These constitute the subcategories of disapproval. In 33 per cent of the cases where the boss knew of the addict's habit, he did nothing and seemed to ignore the situation. This tolerant reaction was reported by 54 addicts. Finally, some 56 addicts, 35 per cent of the total who said their boss knew, reported responses that we have classified as sympathetic and supportive. In 33 cases, the boss expressed sympathy and did nothing, in 15 cases the boss helped the addict enter a treatment program while he continued to work, and in 8 cases the boss actively participated in the addict's habit by covering up for him, helping him to maintain his habit and, in five instances, joining the addict in the use of drugs.

The wide range of responses by bosses is repeated by the co-workers. When asked what their co-workers thought of their using drugs, the 62 per cent who reported that their co-workers did know were most likely to say that their co-workers didn't seem to care. Some 56 per cent of this group gave the "didn't care" response. Of the others, 24 per cent reported that their co-workers disapproved of their drug habit, but incredibly enough, almost as many, 20 per cent, reported that their co-workers approved of their drug behavior. Perhaps these were the cases where the co-workers who knew were themselves addicts. The responses of the bosses and co-workers have been combined into an index that measures the climate of opinion at the work place about the addict's habit. In constructing this index, we have initially included those who reported that their co-workers or bosses did not know about their habit. This index ranges from approval at one end to disapproval at the other, with tolerance in the category immediately below approval and ignorance immediately before disapproval.*

The distribution of cases on this index of the attitudes of work

*In constructing this index we had to make arbitrary decisions about the cases in which the attitude of the boss was opposite the attitude of the co-workers. In these cases, the boss's attitude took precedence over the co-workers' attitude.associates toward the addict's habit is as follows:

The surprising finding is that disapproval is the least likely response of work associates to the addict's habit. Somewhat more co-workers expressed approval than disapproval. The largest category consisted of co-workers who were ignorant of the addict's habit, 32 per cent of the entire sample, closely followed by a tolerant attitude, that is, addicts reporting that their associated or bosses did not care one way or the other about their drug habit. The full distribution shown for everyone really contains two dimensions, knowledge of the addict's habit by either bosses or co-workers and the attitude of those who did know. The third column shows the distribution when the ignorance category is removed. When work associates did know of the addict's habit, their most typical response was tolerance or indifference, with almost half of the addicts whose associates knew giving this response. Strikingly, the approval response is somewhat more frequent than the disapproval response. This finding sheds considerable light on the situation of working addicts. One important reason why addicts were able to hold jobs for a relatively long period of time even though they were addicted is that they were not likely to meet with negative sanctions from their work associates, bosses or co-workers. Most of the working addicts found considerable tolerance or active social support from their co-workers.

Whether work associates (boss and co-workers) approved, disapproved or remained indifferent to the addict's habit (once they knew of it) turns out to be unrelated to the addict's social characteristics. Whether the addict is young or relatively old, white or black, male or female, well educated or poorly educated is not related to the response of work associates. The one exception to this rule seems to be religion, with Protestants reporting less disapproval from work associates than either Catholics or Jews (13 per cent compared with 29 per cent of the other two groups).

Neither occupation nor income is related to the attitude of work associates, but industry is associated with the kinds of colleague sanctions, as can be seen from Table 6.12.

Little difference among industries appears in the approval rates (last row) but there are some striking differences in disapproval rates.

Addicts who worked in retailing were most likely to report disapproval from their colleagues and those working in manufacturing and government were least likely to, with those in other white collar and other blue collar industries falling in between. Why retailing should be so different from the other industries is not clear. Perhaps the need to interact with customers lowers the tolerance of co-workers for the deviance of the addict.

We have seen that many addicts reported that taking drugs at work had an impact on their job performance. They felt high at work, they sometimes fell asleep on the job and they sometimes missed work because of their drug habit and they were prone to accidents under the influence of drugs. When the drug habit interferes with job performance, it is likely that supervisors and co-workers would be less tolerant and more disapproving of the addict's habit. The data on hand show this to be so (Table 6.13).

The significant pattern emerges in the top row. The greater the impact of the addict's habit on his job, the more likely he is to meet with disapproval from his work associates. Tolerance of addiction declines markedly when the drug habit gets in the way of the addict's work.

Not surprisingly, the attitude toward the addict's habit was less disapproving in companies with a number of addicts among the employees. As Table 6.14 shows, disapproval sharply declines as the number of addicts employed by the company increases.

The attitude of disapproval from work associates is more than twice as common in companies with hardly any addicts than in companies with a relatively large number of addicts. The prevalence of addicts in companies goes hand in hand with an attitude of tolerance toward addiction.

Dealing in Drugs at Work

One sign of the penetration of the drug culture in the work place is the extent to which drugs are bought and sold at work. The addicts in the sample were asked whether they themselves had bought drugs where they worked and whether they had sold drugs at work. These measures of drug dealing at work involve the addict himself. Had we asked whether drugs were bought and sold by anybody at work, undoubtedly many more would have responded affirmatively. In any case, 19 per cent of the sample said they had bought drugs at work and slightly more, 21 per cent, said they had sold drugs at work. These questions are highly related to each other. Those who sold were much more likely to buy and vice a versa. When these questions are combined into an index of drug dealing at the work place, we find that two-thirds of the sample were not involved in dealing at the work place, 22 per cent either bought or sold and 11 per cent had done both.

Social Characteristics and Drug Dealing

Dealing in drugs at work turns out to be related to a number of social characteristics. For example, men were much more likely to deal than women, 38 per cent compared with 18 per cent, and the better educated somewhat more than the poorly educated, as 39 per cent of those with some college education dealt in drugs at work, 36 per cent of those who were high school graduates and only 29 per cent of those who failed to graduate from high school. The two social characteristics most strongly related to dealing are age and ethnicity. Table 6.15 shows the relationship between age and dealing. Fully half of the youngest addicts bought or sold drugs at work compared with only a quarter of the oldest. Earlier we saw that older addicts held their jobs much longer than younger addicts and perhaps abstaining from drug dealing is symptomatic of greater job stability. But this finding could also mean that there is a trend toward drug dealing at the work place, with the younger addicts representing a more modern generation than the older addicts.

Whites were much more likely to deal in drugs at work than Puerto Ricans, with blacks in between, as can be seen from Table 6.16.

Almost two out of every five whites were involved in drug deals at work compared with less than a third of the blacks and only a fifth of the Puerto Ricans.

Work Characteristics and Drug Dealing

Occupation bears some relationship to drug dealing. Those in the blue collar occupations were somewhat more likely to engage in buying or selling drugs at work than those in white collar occupations. The craftsmen score highest in dealing with 39 per cent, closely followed by the unskilled workers, 38 per cent; at the other extreme are the lower level white collar workers with only 28 per cent involved in dealing and the higher white collar workers are next lowest with 31 per cent.

We saw that addicts who were government employees were most likely to have their habit known to their co-workers and they were least likely to meet with disapproval of their habit from their work associates. In keeping with those manifestations of a drug culture in government employment, we now learn that dealing in drugs was particularly prevalent among those who were government employees, as can be seen from Table 6.17.

More than half of the government employees bought or sold drugs at work, a figure much larger than that of any other industry. In second place is manufacturing with slightly more than a third of the addicts in that industry involved in dealing and the industry with the lowest percentage of dealers is retailing, with only 28 per cent. By all the indicators considered so far, government employment proves to be fertile territory for the drug culture. Is it possible that job security that stems from civil service encourages addicts who work for government to be less guarded about their habit in the work place? It must be remembered that our data deal only with the degree to which the addicts who worked in these different settings manifested their habit at work. We do not know from our data whether certain industries seem to generate more addicts than others. And as can be seen from the base figures, relatively few of the addicts we interviewed were employed in government, far fewer than any other category of industry. Thus government work may not be conducive to addicts but the addicts who work there tend to manifest their habit in the work setting more than those in other industries.

Two other work characteristics bear some relationship to dealing. It turns out that the most poorly paid workers, those earning under $100 a week, were not nearly as likely to deal in drugs at the work place as those in higher paying jobs (only 19 per cent compared with 34 to 41 per cent in higher income categories). This suggests that there is little dealing in the poorest paid work settings because the workers do not have enough money to buy drugs from each other. The index of strenuousness of work bears a small relationship to drug dealing, with the per cent of dealers climbing from 28 to 37 as the work becomes more strenuous. This might mean that workers with strenuous jobs feel they need drugs more at work. This would help explain the earlier finding that blue collar work involves more dealing than white collar work in that it tends to be more strenuous work.

Drug dealing at work is closely related to the number of drug users at work and the visibility of the addict's habit to his co-workers. That dealing is related to the frequency of users at work is hardly surprising: all this means is that where there is a market, transactions occur. This very strong relationship can be seen from Table 6.18 which relates dealing to the number of addicts in the company and the number of pot smokers in the company.

In companies with a substantial number of drug users, dealing in drugs is the norm.

Dealing in drugs is related to whether the boss knew about the addict's habit (42 per cent dealt where the boss knew and only 30 per cent where the boss did not know), and is very strongly related to co-workers knowing. Among addicts whose co-workers knew of their habit, fully 48 per cent bought or sold drugs, whereas only 8 per cent bought or sold drugs where their co-workers did not know of their habit. This is hardly surprising, for the mere fact of dealing in drugs is a clue to co-workers that the dealer is himself a user, and probably an addict.

Drug Dealing and the Strength of the Drug Habit

Finally, dealing in drugs is strongly related to our measures of the degree of involvement in drugs. We have been dealing with two measures of involvement, one based on the number of drugs used and the amount of money spent on drugs, and the other with the extent to which the drug habit intrudes upon the addict's work performance, what we have called impact of drugs on work. As can be seen from Table 6.19, both of these measures is strongly related to dealing in drugs at work.

The more involved the addict is in drugs, the greater his need to deal in drugs at the work place, that is, the less able he is to segregate his work life from his drug life.

Using Hard Drugs with Others at Work

Perhaps the ultimate symbol of a drug culture infiltrating the work place is for a group of co-workers to get together on the job for the purpose of using drugs. When asked whether they used drugs with co-workers on the job, 39 per cent of the addicts responded affirmatively. It is hard to assess the significance of this figure --- is it high or law? The vast majority of working addicts, as we have seen, used drugs while on the job. We now know that a majority of them would shoot up by themselves. This could mean that the majority did not have the opportunity to use drugs with others because they did not know of other addicts at the place they worked. The 39 per cent who did use drugs with others is almost identical to the proportion who reported that there were other addicts at the place they worked, 40 per cent (see Table 6.1).

Using drugs with others on the job is closely related to the age of the addict. Younger addicts were much more likely to use drugs with others at work than older addicts, the figure being 52 per cent in the youngest age group and steadily declining to 34 per cent in the oldest age category. The only other social characteristic related to this attribute is sex. Men were much more likely than women to participate in social sessions of drug taking at work, 45 per cent compared with 21 per cent. Of the various work variables we have considered, only industry is related to using drugs with others at work. Just as the other information bearing on a drug culture at work presented above suggested that government employment was fertile ground for a drug culture, so does this item of using drugs with others. In the two white collar categories (retailing and other white collar) approximately 35 per cent reported using drugs with others at work. The two blue collar categories were much the same with a rate of 40 per cent. And again government employment stands out with a rate of using drugs with others of 47 per cent.

The more deeply involved with drugs the addict was, as measured by the index of drug involvement and the index of the impact of drugs on his work, the more likely he was to use drugs with others at the work place. These relationships can be seen from Table 6.20. The relationships shown in Table 6.20 are particularly strong. They call attention to the fact that the working addicts are by no means of a piece. Some are much more involved in the drug culture than others and the more deeply involved they are, the more ready they are to create a drug culture at their place of work by making drug use at work a social event.

Not surprisingly, working addicts were much more likely to use drugs with others at work where the opportunity existed, that is, where there were other addicts at the work place. Table 6.21 shows how this variable is related to number of addicts and number of pot smokers at work.

Drug socializing at work is more strongly related to the presence of other addicts at work than to the presence of pot smokers as would be expected since the question refers to using hard drugs with others.

Finally, using drugs with others at work is very closely related to dealing with others at work. Of those who neither bought nor sold drugs at work, only 20 per cent used drugs with others. Of those who did either, drug socializing soars to 73 per cent and of those who did both, the figure climbs still further to 86 per cent. Dealing in drugs with others at work is virtually synonymous to using drugs with others. For a substantial minority of the addicts, their place of work evolved into a setting as compatable with the drug culture as the street corner. They were able to buy and sell drugs at work and use drugs with others.
 

Learning About Drugs at Work

We close out this chapter on the intrusion of the drug culture on the work place with data bearing a critical issue: the extent to which the work place is a breeding ground for addicts. We saw in an earlier chapter that most of the addicts in our sample turned to drugs after they entered the job market and found a full-time job. To what extent, then, did they learn about drugs on the job? Did they pick up the habit in the neighborhoods in which they lived, through their off the job peer groups, or did they learn about drugs at the place where they worked? The addicts were asked about this directly in the following question: "Did you start using drugs for the first time on any job that you had?" Some 16 per cent of the addicts answered this question in the affirmative. For them, their jobs were the breeding grounds for their habit, for they learned about drugs from their co-workers.

Two of the addict's social characteristics are moderately related to this variable, education and ethnicity. Those who went to college were somewhat more likely to be introduced to drugs at the work place than the less well educated, 24 per cent compared with 15 and 14 per cent. This is not too surprising, for those who become addicts at an early age were not likely to go to college. As for ethnicity, Puerto Ricans were more likely than whites to learn about drugs through their jobs, 22 per cent compared with 12 per cent, with blacks in between, 17 per cent.

Being introduced to drugs through the work place is related to both occupation and industry. The higher white collar workers, many of whom were paraprofessionals, were much more likely than the others to learn about drugs through their jobs and, in keeping with the previous findings, government employees were much more likely than those in other industries to be introduced to drugs at the work place. These relationships are shown in Table 6.22.

Both the higher white collar workers and those employed by government show the same rate of 29 per cent, a rate 9 percentage points higher than the nearest competitor and 18 points higher than the group at the opposite extreme.

One might suppose that working in a place that had addicts in the work force would increase the risk of exposure to drugs at work. But this variable is only weakly related to the number of addicts in the firm, from 13 per cent to 19 per cent as we move from no addicts to a fair number.

Some addicts thus learn about drugs through their jobs and this is more likely to happen to the higher white collar workers and those working in government.

Summary

This chapter has examined the extent to which a drug culture has intruded the places where the addicts worked. We have seen that many manifestations of a drug culture did indeed appear at the work place. A substantial minority of addicts reported that at least some of their co-workers were addicts and a majority reported marijuana use at the work place. The addict's condition was by no means kept secret from his co-workers. A substantial minority reported that their bosses knew of their addiction and a majority reported that at least some co-workers knew. Most surprisingly, the work associates who knew of the addict's habit were rather tolerant. Not caring was the typical attitude and there were as many who were supportive as were disapproving.

A minority of the addicts bought and sold drugs at the work place, and a substantial minority used drugs with co-workers on the job, sure signs of a drug culture infiltrating the work place. Unfortunately, we have no base line for assessing these figures. Had comparable research been done five or ten years ago, would the rates of such behavior at the work place have been significantly lower? And would a follow-up study five or ten years from now show much higher rates? Without such comparable data, we have no way of knowing whether there is a trend toward the drug culture moving in on the work place. But it must be remembered that our younger addicts were much more likely to be involved in these activities on the job than the older addicts, suggesting that there may indeed be such a trend. In any event, we have seen substantial evidence of the drug culture overlapping with the world of work.

 

Our valuable member David Caplovitz has been with us since Saturday, 16 June 2012.

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