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Prevalence of Addiction Amongst Service Workers in the Restaurant Industry

Addiction in the Restaurant Industry

Though many different kinds of workplaces deal with on-site substance misuse and employees who struggle with untreated addiction, some industries tend to harbor a greater risk than others. The food service and accommodation industry has the most full-time employees who use illicit drugs, reaching a whopping 19% of the 15 million-strong workforce reporting use within the past month. These statistics are alarming, especially for those in recovery and looking to return to the labor force. The restaurant industry is known for accepting those with few skills to join the ranks working in the kitchen until they work their way up; however, those in recovery should be aware of the worrying rates of addiction that lurk among such workplaces.

Restaurant Industry Risk Factors

Dining at a restaurant is very different from working in one! Those who have worked in both the “front” and “back” of house in an eatery experience immense stressors while accommodating guests in a fast-paced environment. Positions within this industry are known for dealing with heavy workloads, long hours, inconsistent breaks, and late-night shifts that can wear down even the most energetic person.

The workplace culture in this industry also revolves around drinking, entertaining, and low-surveillance “party” environments where people are primarily in charge of their own duties, at all costs. Even outside of work, people in the service industry are likely to hang out in these types of environments during their free time, especially things like post-shift drinks or various promotional gatherings where alcohol is plentiful. Some people may see this aspect as a perk of the job; however, it can quickly lead people down a dark road of substance misuse. Still, many people flock to these jobs because of their love for the culinary arts, the ability to earn tips, and easy entry into low-level positions with room to move up. These qualities can appeal to those in recovery looking for a fresh start, perhaps unaware of the number of triggers they will encounter on the job.

Despite these attractive qualities, few restaurant jobs offer job security, and those who hold these positions often work paycheck to paycheck, moving on to other jobs quickly. This instability can fuel feelings of hopelessness and depression, which can carry the risk of co-occurring disorders along with addiction—working while intoxicated on the job in this industry can quickly become catastrophic or fatal as employees often handle dangerous instruments and sometimes heavy machinery. Unfortunately, within the foodservice industry, only about a quarter of employers offer help for workers who may be struggling with addiction or substance misuse, making it even more volatile.

Recovery Services of New Mexico understands that there are thousands of Americans juggling a career while struggling with substance use disorder. Some people may think they don’t have the time or resources to get the care they need, but outpatient medication-assisted treatment makes recovery accessible and convenient. Many RSONM patients regularly check in with their medical providers to address their addiction recovery concerns while still managing their life affairs and familial obligations. Recovery is possible, and the knowledgeable and experienced staff at a nearby RSONM location are ready to help.


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