The food service industry has long been notorious for rampant drinking and drug use. Former server Cinnamon Janzer said, “You’re around alcohol all day and after a long night of dealing with sometimes difficult customers, nothing sounds better than a drink. Then another person gets off of their shift and another and before you know it you’ve got a party… and it’s Tuesday.” 
High Rates of Addiction
A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey of 20 professions found that the restaurant and hospitality industry had the highest rates of drug use, and the third-highest rates of heavy drinking.
Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential, which came out in 2000, made public what those in the restaurant industry had long known about substance use in the field. In the book, Bourdain said, “Not much has changed since then [the 1970’s], especially in terms of drugs and alcohol.”
More Resources Cropping Up for Those Wanting to Get Sober
However, things finally have been shifting. An addiction support group specifically for those working in the food service industry began in 2016, with local meetings in 15 cities and daily zoom meetings for anyone around the country. Late night meetings are available three nights a week for those needing one after a shift.
This isn’t the only way the culture is beginning to change. High-profile chefs like David McMillan and Sean Brock have spoken publicly about their sobriety. In 2018, Portland chefs Gabriel Rucker and Gregory Gourdet started an annual zero proof dinner with a non-alcoholic tasting menu; it sold out in less than ten minutes two years in a row.
Steve Palmer, one of the founders of Ben’s Friends, says the reason this is all happening now is “a confluence of events. High-profile chefs getting sober, Bourdain [referring to his suicide in 2018], the opiate crisis, with people dying at a much younger age. That accelerated the conversation.”
Resources like Ben’s Friends are particularly necessary because servers typically don’t have insurance to help them attend treatment. Additionally, their schedules don’t allow for time off to focus on recovery.
As the conversation shifts and more resources become available, people in the service industry who want to get sober will have more places to turn—and more sober role models.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a great sober life. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005 to find treatment that fits with your schedule.