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Substance Abuse in the Restaurant Industry

Substance abuse and the restaurant industry often go hand in hand.  The conditions that abound this environment often make for a difficult and sometimes truly trying and upsetting setting that leads to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.  There are a decent number of key aspects and factors to restaurant work that makes it a breeding ground for substance abuse.  Some of these are:

The nature of the business is a factor. Late hours, double shifts, high stress, you name it, – restaurant workers may feel that they need to use stimulant drugs to work 18 hours a day while others may turn to alcohol to decompress after a stressful shift.

The high turnover rate can also be an issue. There’s a high turnover rate on the floor and in the back of the house in most restaurants. Students graduate and move onto other careers, and the low pay for entry-level kitchen staff makes these positions difficult to fill for the long-term. It’s not hard for an applicant who has drug abuse issues to get a restaurant job with little experience and few references that could even be made up.  The industry easily attracts people who are already abusing substances, and then these people get others hooked on those very same substances.

Access to the substance is one of the most obvious factors.  Alcohol is served in many restaurants, and many dishwashers and line cooks often have a personal stash of their drug of choice in their pocket, making it easy for other staffers to access whatever they want and whenever they want too.

The Grim Truth of Restaurants and Substance Abuse

A recent study was done as to the top five occupations in the United States that attracted substance abuse.  Restaurants ranked the highest, at 17.4 percent of all occupations surveyed.  The people who work in food preparation (cooks and prep cooks), serving (waiting tables), and bartending, use illegal drugs at twice the national average at least.

This is for a few reasons, some of which have been mentioned above.  First, restaurants are less likely to perform drug tests, so drug users often apply to work at restaurants because they feel as though the odds are in their favor for not getting caught. Also, restaurants don’t typically post drug information and policy in the workplace, as it is generally accepted that this type of thing will occur in such institutions. Food prep workers, servers, and bartenders, as a result, do not learn about the dangers of illegal drugs and so are more likely to use them. In addition, these jobs are seen as more flexible, can produce cash on a daily basis, (in tips for wait staff), and the high turnover rate across the industry means that positions are readily available.  Truthfully, there are a lot of factors that contribute to this, each one being just as serious and real as the last.

Another recent survey that came from the federal government illustrated just how prevalent drug and alcohol abuse is in the restaurant industry.  This survey revealed a lot of data that was previously unknown.  According to recent data by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in fact, (an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), restaurant and hotel workers have the highest rates of illicit drug use by industry. In terms of heavy drinking, miners ranked the highest of all occupations, followed by construction workers and then restaurant/hotel employees.  Essentially, restaurant workers had the highest drug use percentage and the third highest alcohol abuse percentage.

To get the numbers on it, the survey, (based on crucial data from two time periods between 2003 and 2012), found that 19.1 percent of workers in food services had used illicit drugs in the past month. The food-services industry also had the highest rate of substance abuse disorder, (16.9 percent), compared to other professions.

What to Do About It

This news is sad and grim, to say the least, but it is very real and something needs to be done about it much sooner rather than later.  It really is an inopportune condition and that aspect of it really does need to end.  They key to ending substance abuse in American restaurants lies in the successful utilization of inpatient, residential, drug and alcohol addiction and dependence treatment centers, detox facilities, rehab programs, and recovery organizations.  With inpatient rehab, problems like these really do become something of the past, and they essentially fall by the wayside as one goes through rehab.

It is not always easy to convince a restaurant worker who has been abusing drugs and alcohol to go to rehab, but this is necessary and needed and a must overall.  For them, they often feel as though they cannot afford rehab or that it is totally unattainable.  This is the grim trap of addiction though, and ultimately the individual’s life is far more important than his or her financial situation.

Inpatient rehab will afford an addicted restaurant worker with all of the necessary tools, techniques, and therapies needed and necessary to effectively be able to confront and address addiction as an individual once and for all.  At a rehab center one will experience:

1. Detoxification.  This is the first step of rehab and it involves a thorough and complete removal of any and all residual drug chemicals that remain in the person’s body.  In doing so, one will actually go free from chemical dependence to drugs and alcohol.

2. Rehabilitation.  With rehab, one actually gets a chance to address the mental and psychological aspects of drug and alcohol addiction.  In this way, one can really and truly break free from the trap that is an addiction and substance abuse once and for all because one will have addressed the personal and spiritual aspects of addiction.

With inpatient rehab, one can actually get rid of addiction once and for all.  This is the right step and the right action for those who are addicted and who work in the restaurant industry.  For them, inpatient rehab is the saving grace that they need to get rid of these deadly and dangerous habits once and for all.

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