Coping With Addiction and Mental Health Issues in the Restaurant Industry
It’s difficult to understand the stories we see in the news every day about depression and addiction, but we do know they have a significant impact on many people in our industry. Hospitality is a fast-paced and high-stress business with easy access to alcohol, so it’s not a surprise to know that people get hooked to the point where it affects their job. Other drugs also find their way into kitchens and bars, and knowing how to help affected employees and protect the operation and image of the business is crucial.
If you work in the business, you know how crazy things get in the kitchen and if you don’t you can read Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly to reveal one man’s view of life in the back-of-house.
NPR published an excellent article on this subject earlier this year, please read: In an Industry Rife with Substance Abuse, Restaurant Workers Help Their Own
If your restaurant is part of a large corporation, you most likely have a set policy to handle people who show up to work under the influence. If you’re a smaller operation you should at least have an understanding with employees what your position is for these situations. Many policies are zero tolerance, and we’re not sure that’s always the best course of action. We urge every restaurant and bar owner/manager to have current contact information for local resources readily available at all times.
There are city and county mental health organizations, addiction counselors, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other groups who will help. Google them, call them, and find out what they can do to help a troubled employee now so you’re ready when the time comes.
Be Kind, You Never Know What Someone Else is Going Through
Our world becomes more computerized and automated every day, but the hospitality industry remains a human experience from cooks and servers to the customers who we work so hard to please. The tragedy of Mr. Bourdain reminds us that money and fame will not rid people of their demons, and if all we can do for someone is to be kind, then let us be kind. Professional help and support from peers may save a person who has no hope.