The Growing Issue of Substance Abuse in the Food Service Industry

While cases of customers who suffer drug-related overdoses in private businesses are common, food service industry workers endure an increasing number of issues associated with substance abuse.

For example, a New Jersey chef and restaurant owner had struggled with substance abuse for ten years until he got clean six years ago. One of his friends died from drug use in August, causing the chef to tell his story on social media in an effort to spread awareness to the topic of substance abuse in the food service industry. In May, an Illinois man died of a drug-related overdose in a Starbucks bathroom. Another man in Arkansas suffered an overdose in a Starbucks parking lot and an employee had to save his life.

A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy aimed to determine the prominence of drug abuse in commercial establishments in New York City. Of the 86 business owners who were surveyed, 58 percent reported that they had encountered some kind of drug use in their businesses. About 34 percent of these managers had found syringes in the establishments. About 90 percent of them had no previous training to address situations related to overdoses.

According to the National Safety Council, employers should address substance use disorders by having a clearly written policy, proper employee education, supervisor training, an employee assistance program and drug testing.


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