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The sober bartender: Addiction and sobriety in the hospitality industry

Posted on 06-01-15 in Alcohol Abuse, Drug Addiction

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Many Americans have gone through the experience of working in restaurants at some point or another, but there are a few who have had previous battles with addiction and continue working in hospitality while staying sober. This provides recovering addicts and alcoholics with another set of obstacles to overcome while getting sober, but many have made the leap into sobriety while still maintaining decent jobs in restaurants.

The hospitality industry has long been acknowledged for its widespread alcohol and drug abuse, which are harmful byproducts of a stressful work environment. In recent studies, food service workers have reported the highest rates of illegal drug use and alcohol abuse. Gale Gand, an executive pastry chef at the restaurant Tru in Chicago states, “It is one of the downfalls of our business.” Tru is part of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, which trains managers to help employees who have problems with addiction.

Despite the tempting work environment, many restaurant industry workers have found relief from their addiction through a combination of intensive addiction treatment and 12-step based programs. Like with anybody else who is struggling with an addiction, finding a solid support group of individuals who have gone through the same struggle to lean on and maintaining the desire change is what one needs to get sober and remain that way.

One of England’s original celebrity chefs, Michael Quinn is a recovering alcoholic. He was the first British chef to run the kitchen at the Ritz-Carlton in London. After working through the 1980s, by the 1990s Quinn drank himself out of the job and onto the streets. In 1996, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous and has remained a member ever since. By 2001, he formed the Ark Foundation, which helps restaurant workers who struggle with addiction. He and other volunteers give lectures year around at cooking schools in Great Britain.

Quinn believes that those in recovery do not have to stay away from working in restaurants and the drinking culture that follows it.“The key is to admit we need help and start that path of recovery,” he said. “Then we can go into any situation and feel protected. We have nothing to fear.”

The truth is if one is solid in their own recovery, they should never have to shield themselves from the outside world; this includes working in restaurants or other industries where drinking is readily available. Enjoying a sober life in recovery does not mean one has to spend it in hiding. One of the lasting benefits of solid recovery is the sound peace of mind people can feel without drinking or drugs. That sense of ease and comfort can carry individuals through anything as long as they choose to work diligently on sobriety. The idea of drinking and doing drugs often loses its appeal and this in turn allows those on the path of recovery to give themselves more room to grow.

Many people working restaurants and other hospitality related fields have found relief from their addiction through intensive treatment and attending 12-step recovery groups. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading addiction treatment centers in the country and offers numerous inpatient and outpatient options for individuals who are struggling with addiction, mental health disorders or a combination of both known as a dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, please contact us at 888-530-4614. One of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.

Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer