The Most Addiction Prone Profession in America

by AdamS on September 1, 2012

Genetics, childhood trauma, and stress have all been scientifically linked to higher addiction rates among individuals.  However now there is evidence that career choice also influences the likelihood of an individual developing addiction to drugs or alcohol.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) the professional industry with the highest rate of substance addiction is the food service industry.  The food service industry is responsible for the most cases of alcoholism and outranks the artist and entertainment industry as well as the construction industry which also boast high substance addiction rates.  Restaurants are now cracking down on their employees and promoting sober living programs during job training to lower the addiction rates associated with the profession.

Surrounded By Alcohol

At nearly every job station in most restaurants, an employee is exposed to alcohol.  Cooks often need to use wine or liquor to create dishes and to ensure the taste is correct, sample the dish.  The same goes for bartenders but at a much more significant level.  Bartenders must ensure their cocktails are being prepared correctly and that often leads to sampling the finished product before it is served to the customer.  Another problem bartenders have to deal with, are patrons who buy drinks for them or insist they take a shot with them.  Many bartenders end up leaving work intoxicated and it becomes a routine behavior, which leads to alcohol addiction.

Stress a Huge Factor

Stress also plays a major role in substance addiction among people working in the food service industry.  Servers and bartenders have to deal with customers directly, often having to listen to their complaints and go out of their way to keep their tables happy.  These professions require the employee to be standing and walking around throughout their entire shifts which is very physically stressful, and combined with the emotional stress of dealing with customer complaints often leads many in this industry to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol.  Stress on the job is one of the leading factors of addiction for all careers.

Restaurant Industry Changing

Due to the alarming rate of alcoholism and drug addiction among the industry’s professionals, some restaurants are starting to make significant changes to their policies.  After one of their employees drank on the job and then was involved in a fatal car accident, owners of Husk restaurant in SC installed security cameras to monitor their employees.  More restaurants are now implementing similar practices as well as creating no-tolerance policies to terminate any employee caught drinking during their shift.

The food service industry has begun to promote sober living programs in order to cut down on the substance addiction rates associated with the profession.  Alcoholism will likely remain rampant throughout the industry however, due to the physical and emotional stress that comes with the job.  Hopefully by making positive changes within the restaurants to monitor employees, on the clock drinking will at least be reduced.  By that change alone, there will likely be less incidents of employees leaving work and hurting or killing themselves or others while driving home from work. Go to  for more info on sober living.

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