Being in the restaurant industry, serving alcohol is such a big part of it. It’s intended to create an experience, just like the food, music, and the interior of the space. But if you’re struggling with alcohol or drugs, it would be such a hard industry to be in because you’re going to be around those all the time. 

In fact, about 17% to 24% of restaurant workers around the country have issues with alcohol and drugs. And that’s because it’s the only industry where drinking and drugging have become the norm. They’ve created that kind of atmosphere where it’s widely accepted and readily available.

Our guest today is Mickey Bakst, the co-founder of Ben’s Friends, a recovery community dedicated to helping struggling addicts in the food and beverage industry find sobriety and seek recovery and support – without having to give up their lives and their careers. 

At the forefront of what they do is creating a community of people who not only understand the addiction, but understand the life that the F&B workers live in. Active since 2016, Ben’s Friends is a safe space to talk about it knowing that they will not be judged.

In the treatment of all kinds of addictions, when people can talk about it and connect with others, and they can feel heard and understood – that’s when change happens.

38 years sober now, Mickey was found in a hotel room after four days of drugging and drinking and ended up at the emergency room table. Because of his addiction, he also ended up losing his restaurant business, his home, and anybody who cared about him. Now at 69 years old, Mickey continues to live out his passion for helping individuals in the F&B industry who are struggling with addiction and he sets an example for those seeking sobriety. 

On this episode, Mickey shares a little bit of his own story, some of the unique struggles that come with working in the restaurant community, and why Ben’s Friends can be so helpful for someone in the restaurant industry who’s struggling with alcohol and substance abuse.

In this episode, you will hear:

  • His struggles at AA
  • The parts of AA that resonated with Mickey the most
  • How Ben’s Friends started
  • Why the restaurant industry is prone to alcohol and drug addiction
  • How Ben’s Friends is able to create a strong community within their industry 

Key Quotes:

[08:29] – Nothing happened for me until I made a decision that for me, I wanted to live and I knew I couldn’t live the way I was.

[14:03] – “Anywhere from 17 to 24% of restaurant workers around the country are having issues with alcohol and drugs.”

[15:39] – “We’re the only industry where drinking and drugging is the norm. It’s accepted.”

[18:14] – “At the forefront of what we do is creating a community of people who not only understand the addiction, but understand the life that the F&B workers live in.”

[26:18] – “Once you make a decision, and that decision flows through your being that you can no longer drink if you want to live the life you want to live.”

[26:35] – “Ben’s Friends gives people who are struggling with that obstacle a place to talk about it where they’re not judged.”

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