Alcoholism in Truck Drivers

Alcoholism in Truck Drivers

Truck drivers have a difficult job which entails being away from home and loved ones for a prolonged period of time. Social isolation and fatigue are also common for drivers. Due to these tough work conditions, it is not surprising that many truck drivers fall victim to alcoholism and substance abuse.

Such addictive behavior has serious repercussions for the drivers and people around them. Apart from affecting the driver’s personal and professional lives, alcoholism also exposes other people to grave danger on account of drunk driving.

Alcoholism is one of the biggest issues faced by truck drivers. Due to its wide-ranging negative effects, the problem of alcoholism in drivers needs to be addressed in a timely manner.

Addictions Among Truck Drivers

While trucking is an important industry, it doesn’t pay much attention to the needs and requirements of the drivers. As a result, truck drivers routinely resort to escape mechanisms such as drinking and drug abuse. There are several reasons which make a driver more vulnerable to such dangerous behaviors.

  • Truck driving is an extremely physically challenging job. It entails sitting in a small, cramped cabin for a prolonged period of time, without adequate breaks in between. Lack of proper space and movements makes this job even more strenuous.
  • As physically challenging truck driving is, it is equally mentally challenging too. The truck drivers are required to remain alert all the time they are behind the wheel. They tend to spend a lot of their time on busy highways, which calls for superior mental agility to weave through busy traffic. Such super concentration is a massive mental drain, leading to fatigue and boredom.
  • Truck drivers are required to undertake long journeys, which entail spending a long time on the road. During these periods, truck drivers are away from their family, friends, and acquaintances. Such social isolation is one of the biggest causes which push drivers to indulge in risky behaviors such as alcoholism and drug abuse.
  • Peer pressure may also lead to alcoholism. While it is mainly the hardships associated with this job, which are the main reasons behind alcoholism among drivers, there are several other factors at play as well. Peer pressure is one such factor as new drivers are generally introduced to such substances by their colleagues and co-workers.

As per different studies conducted over a period of time, over 50% of truck drivers admit to drinking and driving. Nearly 30% of the drivers concurred that they use street drugs while driving. This kind of behavior is not only dangerous for the drivers but also for other people and thus requires immediate attention.

Treatment and Management of Alcoholism Among Drivers

Since the root causes of such an addiction are fairly clear, it’s important to address these issues to manage addiction among drivers. In addition to these, the truck drivers should also be given therapy to treat their substance abuse issues.

  • The working conditions offered to drivers need to be overhauled to ensure that the drivers are not subjected to excessive physical and mental stress. Trucking companies may work towards rationalizing working hours to ensure the wellbeing of their drivers. Similarly, work scheduling processes should also be optimized to provide adequate rest to drivers between their shifts.
  • Counseling sessions may go a long way to help drivers manage their stress level. This treatment option is mainly pre-emptive in nature but may also be used for treating addictions which have not reached an advanced stage yet. Such counseling should be made mandatory for all the trucking firms to ensure that their employees are in best possible mental condition.
  • Support groups are another way to help truck drivers in treating their addictions and alcoholism. Support groups are generally a step above counseling sessions and are useful for people whose addiction is still under control. Support groups allow people to retain control over their treatment. Furthermore, this kind of therapy can engage multiple people at the same time, making it easier for truck companies to deploy it.
  • Outpatient addiction treatment should be resorted to when counseling sessions and support groups don’t provide enough results. Addiction treatment generally includes different kind of therapies such as counseling, therapy, and detox. This kind of treatment is suitable for working professionals such as truck drivers as they can continue to work while undergoing this treatment.
  • Inpatient treatment is generally the most intensive form of alcohol rehabilitation. It involves staying in a treatment facility for the duration of treatment. Such duration may range from a month to half a year. This type of therapy is helpful in advanced cases of addiction, where other therapies failed to deliver results.


Additional References: ReutersJournal of Addiction Research & Therapy