Fighting Opiate Addiction: One Restaurant’s Valiant Stand

“I believe no chef becomes what he becomes without having many people influence him. ” Jose Andres

It’s no secret that restaurant culture has long been steeped in drugs and alcohol. With late nights, shift drinks and a stressful atmosphere it’s easy to get caught up in that lifestyle. With the growing opioid crisis, it’s ending in death for many employees. A Lexington, Kentucky couple in the restaurant business has taken bold steps after seeing many of their former employees lose their lives to opiate addiction.

“Five years ago, Rob and Diane Perez found a spoon and a ramekin in the trash at a branch of their Saul Good Restaurant & Pub and realized that their top server was doing heroin in the bathroom. They had already lost the first manager to join their staff; she died in jail after trying to obtain prescription pills illegally. But they didn’t put the pieces together until last year when they got a call that a cook would not be coming into work because he had overdosed on opioids and died. They realized that they had lost 13 employees to addiction over 10 years and that half the cases were related to opioid drugs. “They were not fired,” Mr. Perez said. “They were dead.”

In Lexington, since July 2016 there hasn’t been a day that someone hasn’t administered Narcan. Narcan is the lifesaving drug that can help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Having worked in restaurants, I have seen co-workers suffering from addiction alongside myself. Over time, some of them have died, some are still in active addiction, and a few have been able to maintain sobriety.

“An estimated 115 Americans die every day of opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the hardest-hit states is Kentucky, which in 2016 recorded nearly 24 opioid-related deaths for every 100,000 people, almost double the national rate, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports.”

Lexington isn’t the only place that the statistics are skyrocketing; it’s more than just a statistic. People are dying every day. The Perez’s are working on helping who they can. They’ve started working with the 3 largest treatment centers in the area that are within walking distance of the restaurant. They have strict rules that must be followed. Tardiness is not tolerated, there is no bar, and tips are pooled then added directly to paychecks, so there isn’t daily cash in hand. DV8 Restaurant also only does breakfast and lunch, this caters to the employees that are in treatment and attend recovery meetings at night.

How DV8 is Changing the way Lexington Restaurants are Approaching People in Recovery

Word quickly spread around the town of how great the food is, the director of teaching and learning at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work is now a regular customer and brings more business with him. His friends are always shocked once he reveals what DV8 is about.

There are a few employee testimonials throughout the article, sharing a little bit of their story and how they wound up working at DV8. The restaurant has beautifully paired recovery and a healthy work environment and is helping people learn how to hold a job and maintain their recovery responsibly.

Jerod Thomas, the chief executive of one center, Shepherd’s House, said that while other employers had approached him about hiring people recovering from addiction, no one except Mr. and Ms. Perez wanted to take such an active role in treatment. Other owners “may give somebody a second chance, but that’s not their motive,” he said. “Their motive is to get the work done. Rob wants to get the work done, too, he’s just invested in offering support, and being a part of the treatment team.”

This couple is changing the way that those suffering from substance misuse disorders can reintegrate back into the workforce. They give them a second chance that so many people need. The opioid crisis isn’t going anywhere it seems, in our communities, we can start by taking steps like this.

For more information read the full article here. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today. We have admissions staff here for you any time of the day. Call 855-448-3588 or visit our website for more information about the treatment we offer.