80,000 POUNDS AND ONE DRIVER
They are a larger part of our lives than we may realize.
What we see on the freeway as an annoyance for their lumbering bulk, loud diesel engines, smoking stack pipes and squealing air brakes, is to an extent, also what delivers our food to grocery stores, or our clothes to clothing stores.
These are trucks, semi-trucks to be exact.
Semi-trucks comprise a tractor, which pulls the trailer and the trailer itself. Most semis in the United States have 18 wheels and roll down the highway with a federal government-mandated maximum weight of 80,000.
That’s a lot of machinery, especially for one driver whose route is cross country. These cross- country routes can in some cases mean a week’s straight of driving at more than ten hours a day.
Many feel these hours, and the miles driven, are inhumane to the driver. But trucking is a competitive business, and interstate commerce continues to grow in the U.S. So, where does that leave the truck driver?
The truck driver can be depressed because they’re away from loved ones, or simply tired from the miles put in behind the wheel. One way or the other, relief is needed…or stimulation. That is relief and/or stimulation in drug form.
And many American truckers know exactly where to get that relief, or that stimulation, which they crave; truck stops.
THE TRUCKER’S HAVEN
Long-haul truckers have been the focus of many physical and psychological studies to measure how these drivers cope with mental, physical and emotional fatigue during long drives.
The findings: many of today’s cross-country truckers are tired and lonely. Who wouldn’t be after thousands and thousands of miles in the driver’s seat with no one in the passenger’s seat?
The only respite for operators of these enormous vehicles are truck stops. Truck stops represent somewhat of a haven where truckers can eat, take a shower, refuel, and of course, buy drugs as well as have sex.
Yes, that’s correct. Refueling takes on a new meaning within and around an interstate truck stop. Drug dealers are abundant, as are prostitutes.
What’s even worse with truck stops is that the drug dealing and sex intertwine to the point that in some cases, addicted prostitutes would rather be paid in drugs than money, if she (or he) can afford such a barter; i.e. the prostitute’s pimp might not allow it.
Regardless of the politics between a trucker, a hooker, his/her pimp and a drug dealer, the American truck stop is a place of desperation and darkness beyond the edge of its parking lot.
It’s where we wait out our next run, charged up and ready to drive another 500 miles.
WHAT’S THE DRUG OF CHOICE FOR TRUCKERS?
If most cross-country truckers are tired during their day-to-night grind, naturally they would gravitate to a stimulant.
Mind-altering drugs top the list of substances illicitly bought at truck stops, and used by truckers while on the highway.
Those drugs include various forms of amphetamines as well as cocaine. These stimulants amp the long-haul driver to stay awake much longer than normal.
However, the downside of long-term use of these drugs are irritability, hallucinations, hypertension and impairment – all while driving an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer.
The danger increases multi-fold once the long-haul trucker develops a dependency on his/her drug of choice.
Another highly used drug in cross-country trucking is alcohol. Drinking tends to dull the depression for truckers while they’re on the road and away from their family and friends.
PERCENTAGE OF TRUCKERS WHO IMBIBE WHILE ON THE ROAD
Studies have revealed that nearly 50% of long-haul truckers admit to using alcohol either near the time before they should be behind the wheel, or while they’re on the road. In fact, U.S. truckers at 12.5 percent, have the highest frequency of positive tests for alcohol for all worldwide trucking.
As many as 91% of the drivers interviewed in those studies drank while on the job; amphetamine use peaked at 82.5%, and cocaine use topped out over 8 percent.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO DISCOURAGE TRUCKERS AWAY FROM DRUGS?
The dangers of drug addiction and cross-country trucking are enormous.
However, trucking is still, by-and-large, a somewhat maverick industry that tends to be resistant to change.
No matter how much they deny it, trucking companies benefit financially from truckers who take on long shifts, and truckers themselves – especially new ones – are unlikely to turn down the chance of extra pay even if it means upping their amphetamine use.
So, the beat goes on, just like the broken yellow line.
Not all long-haul truckers are addicts, or are on the road – our public roads, literally – toward addiction.
In fact, a good portion of our necessities and luxuries are successfully delivered by tractor-trailer.
The best advice to give is when out on the open road, don’t linger too closely to these behemoths. Just as we don’t know what is inside any of these tractor-trailers in the next lane over, we know as little, if not less, about who or what exactly is behind the wheel.
If you feel alcohol and/or drugs is causing a block between yourself and your loved ones, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers, we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. We specialize in programs that include alcohol and drug detox and recovery, intensive outpatient rehabilitation, and specialty curriculums for members of the LGBTQ+ society. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.
The Addict in the Next Lane Over.