Why Oil Workers Struggle with Addiction

oil worker addictionOil workers may find a great deal of reward in their jobs, particularly financial award, but some of them merely endure the lifestyle of an oil worker and act out in their spare time. Addiction in particular is a very common struggle for an oil worker for a variety of reasons. The basics of why oil workers struggle with addiction are because of the stress of work, the excess of money and the lack of healthy recreation. The combinations of these things, especially through long winters in isolated work camps, makes for the perfect conditions for addiction to thrive.

The stress of work for oil workers can be quite serious. The jobs are basic trade jobs, but the expectations in oil work are very high. The workers are watched carefully for maximized job performance. The work schedule they are required to follow can be grueling. They are typically required to work a number of days on, as many as fourteen, then get an extended amount of time off, but the on hours are long and can feel never ending. This can badly burn oil workers out and make them turn to various addictions in order to self medicate.

The excess of money that oil workers have becomes a problem that increases the likelihood of addiction. Oil workers are paid very high salaries for the jobs they do because oil is such a lucrative commodity. The problem with this is, oil workers who are isolated to one location without much to do and a lot of money to burn tend to get into trouble. Their money readily starts going toward drugs, alcohol, sex and a number of other vices that keep them occupied and entertained.

And, as an extension of too much money as a problem, the lack of recreation in oil towns is extreme. Oil towns are boom towns, meaning they were thrown together in haste to support a fast rising industry and a major influx of workers. Recreation is often the last priority of boom towns, leaving oil workers to twiddle their thumbs and get into mischief that leads them toward addiction and substance abuse.

The Oil Industry’s Dark Secret

oil industry addictionThe oil industry of Canada is one of the country’s most lucrative industries, despite its recent recession. It all began with the discovery of vast oil sands in Northern Alberta that lead to the formation of boom towns like Fort McMurray that brought workers from all over Canada. Despite the industry’s long term success, it has a dark side that is often swept under the rug. This dark side is addiction and substance abuse. The statistics on addiction and substance abuse among oil workers are shocking, making it the most addiction and substance abuse ridden industry in Canada. The expression of these problems are numerous.

Firstly, the amount of substances being abused by and causing addictions among oil workers is atrocious. Pleasure giving substances are a favorite vice of oil workers, who are predominantly male. These substances mainly consist of drugs, both illegal and prescription, and alcohol, which is legal but enjoyed in extreme excess among oil workers. The illegal drugs that are overused can be highly addictive, as in the case of cocaine and heroine, or they may be less addictive but abused all the same, as in the case of marijuana and ecstasy. The rise of prescription medication abuse is ever on the rise, with people getting high on prescriptions such as adderall and killing their pain with opiate derivatives. Oil workers tend to consume very costly alcohols, such as Patron tequila and Cristal champagne because their high salaries allow it.

However, substances are not the only type of addiction. Substance addictions to things like sex and gambling run rampant among oil workers as well. Because the oil industry is so male dominated, oil workers frequently miss the companionship of women, and with prostitution thriving as an underground industry, men can have all the access to sex that money can buy. Addiction to sex is very common among oil workers. Gambling in casinos is also something frequently found in oil boom towns and creates addiction problems for many oil workers.

Addiction and substance abuse in any profession is nothing to take lightly. Addiction and substance abuse are very serious problems that have taken many lives. If you or another oil worker you know are struggling with addiction and substance abuse issues, do not hesitate to seek treatment today.


How to Help Oil Companies and Workers with Addiction

oil industry addiction helpCanada’s oil industry is highly profitable, but is having a hard time keeping their employees from abusing substances and becoming addicted. Substance abuse is having a widespread grasp on oil employees which affects their lives, their jobs and their employers negatively. Addiction and substance abuse have negative effects on the oil worker’s lives, and as a result, oil companies have to face the hardships of mishaps in the workplace, a high employee turnover rate and having to dispense sick pay. It is apparent that the best remedy for the problems of addiction and substance abuse is treatment that works.

People frequently think that an addict or substance abuser must be easy to identify in the workplace. This opinion stems from false impressions that stereotype addicts and substance abusers as unsteady, slurring words and having an unruly appearance, and will not be capable of executing their job duties. While all these things can be true, it is very common for an addict to present a completely functional image to their working world and have many people in their lives convinced that they are a straight edge personality. Addiction and substance abuse are often carefully disguised by their perpetrator, but those who are close to them know that they are suffering. Overtime, a physical, mental and spiritual tole will be taken on the addict or substance abuser if they do not get therapy.

It has become a business tactic of oil companies to not terminate employees who are discovered to have a substance abuse problem. This is because it has been proven repeatedly that addicted or substance abusing employees can still be excellent workers. If the employee has proven to be an asset to the company, then it is in the company’s benefit to connect the employee to substance abuse and addiction treatment services and retain their employment. This encourages an open, practical work environment that makes employees feel secure that they will not be dismissed for needing addiction or substance abuse assistance.

Substance Abuse in the Oil Sands

oil sands substance abuseThe addiction and substance abuse problems that plague Fort MacMurray jobs are resulting in lives destroyed, particularly for men, who come to Fort MacMurray with the honest intention of working hard and making a living. But after arrival, they are pulled into a vortex of alcohol and drug misuse, and mental problems run rampant because of the extreme living conditions.

Drug traffic is really prevalent near the oil sands due to the amazing amount of money that employees invest in drugs. Drug gangs and individual dealers have a booming market of their very own in areas like Fort MacMurray, which is the closest city to the Athabasca oil sands. The accessibility of substances is limitless, with cocaine being the most lucrative drug sale for dealers. It is approximated that a majority of the mental problems among oil employees could be connected to drug usage.

However, the addictive substance that is most mistreated among oil employees is a legal sale: alcoholic beverages. Alcohol sales in Alberta are privatized, and the availability of alcohol is rising along with the statistics on alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Regretfully, alcohol addiction is the most under-resourced one when it comes to treatment, with government rehabs being heavily depleted and extended beyond their resources. Usually, alcoholics will only gain access to basic outpatient support group treatment, which is no where near intensive enough for a severe alcoholic.

Oil employees affected with addiction to alcohol and drugs need to find treatment for their condition, even if they need to find it outside of Alberta. There are a number of rehabilitation programs and addiction treatment facilities in neighboring provinces that can assist the oil sector with its extreme substance abuse and addiction problems. A high paycheck is not worth damaging a worker’s life. Abusers and loved ones of abusers are encouraged to reach out for help before it is too late.

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Combating Addiction in the Oil Sands

oil sands fight against addictionAlberta’s largest oil companies are caught up in the middle of some very public employee drug testing legal debates, and the general public has become familiar with the problem of substance abuse and addiction in Canada’s oil industry. The employee’s camps offer little to no recreational opportunities, the work is demanding and the pay is very lucrative, leading workers to recklessly overindulge in liquor and drugs to amuse themselves. What has to be done to relieve Canada’s oil industry of these problems?

The oil industry does provide information to its employees about addiction treatment services, but often workers do not enter willingly. When a worker’s drug test returns positive results, they are frequently offered the choice of being terminated or going through rehabilitation. Many employees have families to support or large financial responsibilities, so they normally select rehab. Opposition to this method of bringing treatment to addicts has pointed out that the motives serve the oil companies rather than the people by protecting the companies from legal disputes. It is argued that rehab and addiction treatment services should be utilized out of human interest, not out of liability avoidance.

Oil employees describe the battle for sobriety in the oil sands as extremely difficult. For an individual trying to stay sober while surrounded by peers who are abusing substances, the challenges are many. There is even pressure to use from other employees, and pressure from the bleak circumstances of living and working in Northern Alberta. There is little to no presence of addiction support in the industry, and the overwhelmingly male worker population tends to stigmatize needing addiction support as a sign of weakness. Addiction treatment services are made available to employees, and these services are used more heavily with each passing year, such as Fort McMurray addiction treatment, Calgary drug rehabilitation and Edmonton alcohol detox services. However, expanding the addiction services network of Northern Alberta, as well as specializing treatment programs specifically for oil workers, will become increasingly more crucial as the oil and gas industry grows throughout Canada.

Addiction Crisis in the Oil Sands

oil sands addiction crisisThere is no debate about whether or not the Canadian oil industry creates jobs and money.  Recent studies have indicated that it employs more than half a million employees.

But not all the news is good news for Canada’s oil workers. The darker story of this oil boom is the working conditions it develops. The oil “pits,” or camps, are a largely male population, who work for extended periods in remote areas in extremely frigid winter conditions. Oil workers are required to be on-site for weeks at a time away from their families and support systems with barely any entertainment or leisure time. Oil jobs also pay an unbelievable quantity of money, making these the ideal conditions for addiction and substance abuse to thrive.

Legal struggles, such as the one between oil giant Suncor and civil rights unions over the right to randomly and frequently drug test employees, are developing a public understanding of issues long understood by workers of the oil industry. Oil workers who have defeated their addiction and substance abuse describe the battle for sobriety in the oil pits as futile. The pressure of working extended shifts over consecutive weeks accumulates until time off, when employees go into the city with pockets of money to burn. There, they have access to every kind of alcohol, drug and sexual encounter that is for sale.

At the present time, oil companies reserve the right to occasionally drug test their employees, which has an unfortunate effect on the drug using employees. Because marijuana can take weeks to leave the human body, employees are turning to more addictive substances such as alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamines, which only take days to clear from the physical body. Because of how addictive these substances are, it does not take long for employees to become so addicted that they are using on and off the job. Drugs and alcohol are frequently found on site at the oil pits, even in possession of workers operating large equipment.

All oil boom towns in history are known for their substance abusing debauchery. As the oil industry of Canada expands into other provinces, such as British Columbia, it is time for Canada to decide how to battle future addiction issues before they come to resemble the oil sands. If you or someone you know is working in the oil industry and struggling with substance abuse or addiction, professional addiction rehabilitation is essential to well-being and livelihood.