People who work in certain high-stress industries are at greater risk of developing a substance use disorder. The risk is even higher in industries that tend to employ younger workers. That being the case, it is no wonder that the accommodation and food service industries historically have the highest rates of illicit drug use.

Orlando, the theme park capital of the world, has a massive restaurant industry and a growing substance use disorder problem.

Substance Use Disorder in Orlando’s Restaurant Industry

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 19 percent of people employed in the hospitality industry (hotels and food) have used illicit drugs in the past month. The substance use rates are the highest among the 18- to 25-year-old age group, who make a large part of the 15 million people currently working in the U.S. restaurant industry. That is one reason that the restaurant industry is among the top industries for addiction issues.

In Orlando, home to many of America’s most popular theme parks, restaurants are considered the single largest employment industry, with 120,000 workers. According to reports from former workers, alcohol and illicit substances are everywhere in area restaurants.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the Orlando metropolitan area employs over 19,000 full-service restaurant cooks earning a median wage of $12.70 per hour. Other jobs include bartenders, fast food cooks, food preparation workers, chefs and supervisors. There is even a labor shortage in this industry that includes close to 11,000 Central Florida restaurants, caterers, and food trucks.

Addressing Substance Use Disorder in the Restaurant Industry

Restaurant owners and managers are becoming increasingly concerned about these startling statistics. Operating a business in an industry that is being labeled as “dangerous” is not going to be good for business or help restaurants fill open positions. One of the ways that restaurants are addressing this is by becoming more aware of the signs of a substance use disorder among workers. These include:

  • Inability to work and impaired coordination
  • Neglecting responsibilities after warnings
  • Deterioration of personal grooming habits and appearance
  • Excessive absences or unexplained absences
  • Severe mood swings or unexplained change in attitude
  • Slurred speech or tremors
  • Anxiousness, paranoia, or lack of motivation

Because of this nation’s growing opioid epidemic, some restaurant owners in other states are also stocking and receiving training on the use of the life-saving drug naloxone. There is a 12-step based support group called Ben’s Friends Hope that is now in three U.S. cities, but not yet in Orlando. Managers and owners are also encouraged to advocate for qualified Florida addiction treatment resources when appropriate.

Florida Addiction Treatment Options

If you work in the restaurant industry and are struggling with a substance use disorder, you are not alone. There are countless people just like you who need help to find recovery.

Contact Orlando Recovery Center to learn more about our various programs and how we can customize the treatment experience to suit your current needs and situation. A new way to live is waiting right around the corner. Seize the opportunity to reach for recovery today?

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.