Risky Careers
Addiction in the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry has the potential to be extremely high-stress, no matter who you are or what company you work for. This industry can be broken down into four main categories: food and beverage; lodging; travel and tourism; and recreation. Alcoholism and drug addiction affects all working individuals, regardless of which industry they are in. However, employees in the hospitality industry have higher rates of substance abuse than employees in nearly any other profession. If you or someone you love has been struggling with substance abuse and is currently working in the hospitality industry, we are available to help. At CuraSouth we specialize in treating individuals in all professions who have been struggling with addiction. If you think you or a person you love might need help to get sober, contact us anytime.

Addiction in the Hospitality Industry
Facts & Statistics

Addiction in the hospitality industry is very common. A 2015 study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that people working in accommodations and food services have the third highest rate of substance abuse of any profession, preceded only by people working in mining and construction. Roughly one out of every five hotel employees admitted using illicit drugs regularly, and 19.1 percent of all hospitality industry workers reported using illicit drugs at least once a month. Management in this industry also has high rates of substance abuse; 12.1 percent of hospitality managers admitted to illicit drug use.

Alcohol abuse is also extremely prevalent among hospitality workers. A 2008 study conducted by the George Washington University Medical Center states that 15 percent of all employees in the hospitality industry suffer from serious alcohol abuse issues. Alcohol abuse in the workplace compromises productivity, leads to higher healthcare costs, increases absenteeism and costs U.S. employers billions of dollars annually. The SAMHSA report states that 1 out of every 10 hospitality workers engages in heavy drinking patterns, consuming five or more alcoholic beverages at least five times in a one month time period.

Why are levels of substance abuse so high in this specific industry? The reasons why someone begins abusing a chemical substance vary significantly on a person-to-person basis. However, high stress levels in this particular industry likely contribute to increased addiction rates. If you have ever worked in the hospitality industry you understand firsthand how grueling and thankless these occupations can be. The good news is that recovery is possible for everyone. Regardless of how it might feel, you are never stuck in one career. As soon as you make the decision to get sober you will be amazed at how many doors open for you.

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High Stress in the Hospitality Industry

Stress levels are particularly high in the hospitality industry, which is partially why substance abuse and dependence are so prevalent. Many hospitality workers deal with a range of career-related issues, from financial insecurity to a lack of healthcare benefits.

addiction in the hospitality industry

Factors that Contribute to Addiction in the Hospitality Industry:

  • Working long hours – If you work from 8 a.m. in the morning to 9 p.m. at night, you have little time left for self-care. Many service industry employees neglect their own mental and emotional health in lieu of picking up extra shifts in order to pay their bills.
  • The turnover rate in the hospitality industry is exceptionally high – This leads to job insecurity. You might feel if you don’t pick up extra shifts and constantly “prove yourself” that you will simply be replaced.
  • Customer service can wear on you – A lot of people who struggle with addiction have “people pleasing” personalities, meaning they constantly put the needs of others before their own. If you have this personality trait and you are dealing with angry, unhappy customers day-in and day-out, you’re likely to internalize their dissatisfaction.
  • Some hospitality workers might use chemical substances to enhance their performance – It can be difficult to work a “double” (a morning shift and a night shift) and stay alert, focused and sociable. Some hospitality workers use stimulant drugs like prescription stimulants, cocaine or methamphetamine to help them stay awake for long hours.

When to Seek Treatment

How can you tell if addiction treatment has become necessary? Treatment might be needed if:

  • You have tried to cut back on how much you drink or how frequently you use drugs but haven’t been able to successfully cut back or quit for any significant amount of time.
  • You show up to work intoxicated or hungover more often than not.
  • You find that if you don’t have access to your substance of choice you get uncomfortable or anxious.
  • You find that you often engage in substance use once your shift is over to relax and unwind.
  • You have started to experience significant consequences as a direct result of your substance use.
  • You have gotten into trouble with an employer for being intoxicated, but you continue to drink or use your drug of choice regardless.
  • Your productivity has been suffering and you are making more mistakes than you normally would.
  • You have shown up late or missed entire shifts as a direct result of your substance use.
  • The majority of your paycheck goes towards your substance of choice.

If you have been struggling with any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to reach out for help. Contact us to speak to someone who can help you decide if treatment is right for you.

Coping with Stress & Avoiding Relapse

If you have been working in the hospitality industry for years, you might plan on returning to your job once your time in addiction treatment concludes. Returning to an industry you know inside and out might seem like the best move. However, it is important to consider whether or not sobriety can be maintained if you do decide to return to the same environment. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my sobriety stable enough to handle the stress involved in such a fast-paced work environment?
  • Am I going to find it triggering to serve alcohol?
  • Do all of my coworkers drink and use drugs?
  • Is my sobriety going to be supported in the workplace?
  • Am I going to be hesitant to tell my coworkers that I’m sober for fear of judgement or misunderstanding?

Prioritizing your recovery is crucial. If you think returning to the same work environment is going to compromise your recovery or lead to relapse, CuraSouth’s case managers can help you develop a plan for building a new sober life, with a potentially new career. Every client that comes to CuraSouth works directly with a case manager who will help them determine the best next steps to take following detox. This could involve a residential inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient program, individual therapy or other recovery-centric path. Every client leaves CuraSouth with a clear plan in place for their continued sobriety.

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Medically Monitored Detox

Medically monitored drug and alcohol detox is often a necessary first step on an individual’s addiction recovery journey. Withdrawal from any substance used habitually can be both physically and mentally agonizing. This makes quitting difficult no matter how much a person wants to stop. At CuraSouth, our clients undergo drug or alcohol withdrawal in a safe, comfortable, secure and closely monitored environment. Appropriate medications are administered by experienced medical professionals to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and guarantee a safe detox. Beyond the physical stabilization process, clients at CuraSouth will benefit from a fully accredited and highly effective treatment program. Our team of dedicated medical and clinical professionals has combined decades of experience in the fields of substance abuse and mental health and have developed a medical detox program that addresses not only the physical implications of active addiction, but also the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. CuraSouth’s detox program helps individuals form a firm foundation on which to launch their recovery journey.

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Begin Your Recovery Journey Today

Making the decision to step away from a career and seek professional treatment is not always easy. You might be concerned about paying bills on time, making rent and continuing to support any dependents you might be caring for. The value of treatment always outweighs the cost of active addiction. Taking a short break from daily life in order to undergo medical detox can make all of the difference in the world. When you or your loved one is ready to seek help, CuraSouth is here for you. Our admissions process is simple and straightforward and can be completed in as little as 15 minutes. We will provide a complimentary addiction assessment, a free, no obligation insurance benefit check and help coordinate local travel to our detox facility. All you or your loved one has to do is ask for help. We will take care of the rest. Contact us today to learn more.

Travis Atchison

Reviewed for accuracy by: our Clinical Director:

Travis Atchison

Travis is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Addiction Professional. He has worked in various community-based settings, where he served families and couples, addressed issues related to homelessness and crisis and worked in a substance abuse setting.