Already a dangerous profession, workers in shale oil have added another deadly ingredient to the mix: stimulant drugs.
As shale oil production reaches record heights across the United States, a corresponding boom in drug use and connected crimes has come with it, according to a report by Reuters. Oil workers already have a rate of work-related fatality three times higher than other professions, and they’re turning to drugs like meth to keep them going during grueling shifts.
Since 2010 when the latest oil boom began in earnest, authorities have seen an increase in crimes like drug trafficking which seems to directly correlate with the boom. Specifically, meth and cocaine seem to be the drugs of choice.
Truckers for oil companies are supposed to be tested regularly for drug use, as their job involves handling dangerous materials, but companies either declined to talk about their testing procedures with Reuters, or didn’t respond to inquiries for an interview at all.
A similar report by the Houston Chronicle back in July states that, in towns surrounding oil industry sites, drug rehab clinics are seeing their number of clients go up. A church in Midland, Texas converted into a clinic saw its numbers double in the first six months of 2017, and a lot of those people were under 18.
The combination of long, grinding hours and pay high enough to afford drugs like meth and cocaine seems to be fueling the problem. Many workers regularly used stimulants to get through their shift, according to people who spoke to Reuters.
“I’d work 24 hours … I was just plagued with fatigue and needed something to improve my work ethic,” said Joe Forsythe of Midland told Reuters.