Don Tennant

How rampant is substance abuse among IT pros?

By Don Tennant
March 30, 2008 9:04 PM EDT

A reader in North Carolina raised an issue that I haven't thought much about, and it's one of those cases of not even knowing how much I don't know. The issue: To what extent is substance abuse a problem among IT professionals?

Bill Sarine, vice president of business development at ICAN Inc. in Raleigh, notes that according to the DEA, "there are millions of abusers working in our companies, some in very sensitive positions." Given that IT professionals hold some of the most sensitive positions in any company, substance abuse among this group of workers is especially worrisome.

IT pros work exceptionally long hours and are typically under a great deal of stress, so it wouldn't surprise me to find that the problem is more common in this sector than in many others. Let's open up the discussion. Based on your experience, how widespread is substance abuse among people in the IT field? And in what particular jobs is the problem most likely to surface?