The Garnish: A Podcast for Restaurant People

Season 2, Episode 3: Addiction in the Restaurant Industry

April 29, 2019

Content warning: this episode contains discussions about addiction, substance abuse disorder, alcoholism, and drug use.

Today we’ve got an episode about addiction in the restaurant industry. While alcoholism affects people in every line of work, it’s particularly prevalent in the restaurant world, and the surging opioid crisis has also made its way into the kitchens and dining rooms of our industry.

We spoke to three people who each have a different experience with these issues, and we learned about the barriers restaurant workers face in getting treatment and living sober. We also got some perspectives on what restaurant owners and managers can do to create safer environments and help employees struggling with addiction.

Get to know our guests:

Carrie Neal Walden is a former server who has been sober since 2016 and now works for Ben’s Friends, a support group for restaurant workers who struggle with addiction. She’s also a sponsor to many newly-sober restaurant industry workers. She shares her story of recovery on her blog, A Life Filled with Pink.

Shaaren Pine is a former server, bartender, and manager who started the NGO Restaurant Recovery after watching her now ex-husband, a lifelong restaurant worker, struggle with alcoholism. Restaurant Recovery connects those in the industry who struggle with addiction with resources like support groups, family support, and help with the financial and insurance aspect of getting treatment. 

Brandi Estrada is a social worker and restaurant and beverage industry lifer who started the NGO Bar Harm. Through Bar Harm, she teaches workshops on substance abuse and administering Narcan to restaurant staff and management, and provides many more community resources. 

Further reading:

Addiction in the Restaurant Industry and How We Can Build a Culture of Support

Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder by Industry (Report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

PJ Neumann’s restaurant, Boomtown Biscuits and Whiskey, made the news for its decision to stock Narcan in-house.

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