Barriers to employment among unemployed drug users: Age predicts severity

Sigurdur Oli Sigurdsson, Brandon M. Ring, Kristen O'Reilly, Kenneth Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Drug users in treatment or exiting treatment face many barriers to employment when entering the job market, such as low levels of education and technical skills, and low levels of interpersonal skills. As a result of these and other barriers, employment rates in these groups are generally low. Objective: This article examines the existence and possible predictors of specific barriers to employment related to interpersonal and technical skills in a sample of participants enrolled in a therapeutic workplace intervention for substance abuse. Methods: In Study I (N 77), we characterized and examined predictors of participant scores on a staff-rated scale of interpersonal skills (Work Behavior Inventory). In Study II (N 29), we examined whether participants had lower levels of computer knowledge than job seekers in the general population, and investigated possible predictors of computer knowledge in the sample. Results: In general, participants in Study I displayed low levels of interpersonal skills, and participants in Study II scored lower on the computer knowledge test than job seekers in the general population. Older participants tended to have lower levels of interpersonal skills and lower levels of computer knowledge. Conclusions and Scientific Significance: These results suggest that providers of workforce development services for drug users in treatment or exiting treatment should attend to these specific barriers to employment, which may also be more pronounced among older clients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-587
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Computer skills
  • Employment
  • Employment barriers
  • Social skills
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Barriers to employment among unemployed drug users: Age predicts severity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this