The culture of substance use and addiction is deeply engrained in the food industry. Late nights, high stress, and an abundance of alcohol and other substances have fostered this culture, entangling countless people in the food and service industry. Yet, the stigma of addiction and mental illness remains a barrier to treatment and prevents many from seeking the help they require. As a result, the harms of addiction are not appropriately addressed. However, a new trend in the industry is working to address this atmosphere of abuse.
Restaurants Addressing Addiction and Supporting Sobriety
From restaurants who hire individuals following drug or alcohol rehab, to coffee shops who cater specifically to those in recovery, there is momentum for a new culture within the food industry, or at the very least a niche culture of recovery and sobriety. Following addiction treatment, it can be extremely challenging to rebuild your social circles, excluding individuals who may trigger use or find gainful employment. New restaurants and cafes are popping up across the country to address these very issues.
One café set to open in Windsor, Ontario is the innovation of two men who have struggled with addiction throughout their lives. Their hope is to create a safe place for others also in recovery. The goal is to provide a welcoming space, fostering community and the companionship so crucial to a successful recovery, combating the isolation which often accompanies addiction and recovery. The opportunity to socialize in a safe space, where sobriety is the rule not the exception, encourages new relationships to form and supports sobriety.
Finding employment following addiction treatment is another huge barrier people in recovery face. A restaurant in Kentucky is actively working to change this. Working closely with a local addiction rehab, DV8 Kitchen hires people directly out of rehab, offering them meaningful employment in a supportive environment, as well as life skills training to help them thrive in other industries. The meaning and purpose given to one’s life through gainful employment, where one is respected and feels they are making a contribution to their community is indispensable in the recovery process, increasing their chances of sustained sobriety. While the opportunity for such employment is rare directly out of addiction rehab, DV8 Kitchen provides a life changing opportunity to these individuals.
These two examples demonstrate the power of the food and service industry to turn the tides of addiction. Although the culture of the industry often initiates and perpetuates substance abuse and addiction, it can also provide the opportunity for treatment, recovery and sobriety. Acknowledging the role of substance use and addiction within the restaurant culture is the first step to reducing the harm. In addition, active measures to reduce the stigma surrounding treatment and recovery should be undertaken, and more open and supportive environments should be fostered, celebrating sobriety for those in recovery.