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And a dash of
Peer pressure is only one of the factors that in September 2015, but eventually took it up
contribute to ongoing drug abuse in the res- again when she was made aware of the drug
taurant industry. Managements concern to- use going on among staff.
ward alcohol and other substance use on the She said at one point she walked in on a co-
premises can be lax and ineffective at control- caine deal being made between a former em-
ling those behaviours, said McShane. ployee and a cook at the back of the kitchen.

We know from a preventative stand-point, After she promised to keep it a secret, the rest
if workplaces dont have policies around not of the staff began to trust her and use her as a
drinking on the job or around successful inter- confidante and look-out for deals being made
ventions and EAPs (Employee Assistant Pro- during open hours. After work the staff would
grams), we know that puts workers at risk, head to the nearest pub that served under-
McShane said. I think there is high stress, aged people and do more of the same.
coupled with availability and long work hours, Although Fairlie maintains that social
The restaurant industry has a drug problem. and the lack of oversight, whether it be manag- influence was the main factor in drug use
ers or owners. among the staff, the physical and psychologi-
Julia Nowicki has the story Hannon said that the pressure to bond with cal demands of the workplace contributed to
his co-workers contributed to his brief his- her using certain drugs like Xanax and weed

F or Greg Hannon*, it was a brotherhood,

a bonding experience. During his time
working in the restaurant industry, Hannon
markedly higher, resting at 22 per cent com-
pared to the general average of around 16 per
cent in other industries.
tory with cocaine use.
It kind of enabled it, Hannon said. You
know other people are doing it and they still
at work to relieve stress.
The environment got really stressful, and
since youre at the bottom of command, people
had used practically every drug under the sun. Kelly McShane, an associate psychology wake up in the morning. You dont want to be would yell for unreasonable things at you, stuff
Cocaine was new to him. He was hanging professor at Ryerson, received her PhD from the one thats being left out. you cant control, Fairlie said. In a heightened
out with a couple of co-workers from Jack As-
tors, a place that he had only been at for four
Concordia University in clinical psychology
and has experience in researching addictions. I t was around 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday.
Lindsay Fairlie* stood at the sink washing
environment like that sometimes you need to
pop a Xanax and calm the fuck down.
months at the time. The staff used drugs of-
ten, and it was normal for them to head to the
bar or someones house to relax after a long
dishes at the Fionn MacCools she worked at
part-time. She was a high school student and
worked any job that they would give her in
D arren Clay is the executive culinary chef
instructor of the Pacific Institute of Cu-
linary Arts in British Columbia and is part of
shift. Two of Hannons friends stood in his I guess there is an unwritten the kitchen. There was a late rush and she the Chefs Table Society of British Columbia.
kitchen winding down on a particularly busy rule amongst co-workers, if knew she would be at work longer than she He said that the industry as a whole is look-
night. After a 12-hour shift, its hard to relax had previously anticipated. ing toward starting a conversation about
and Hannons head was still buzzing from the you known someone is in on it As her two co-workers, James* and Thom- mental health and stress in the workplace.
adrenaline in his body. His friend eventually you dont say anything about it as*, were leaving to go for a smoke break; With the new generation of cooks and chefs
pulled out a small bag of cocaine and began ar- they called her over. She stopped her work coming in, they see the long hours and low
ranging the white powder into white lines on and joined them as they left through the back pay and are turning away from the industry or
his kitchen island with a credit card. and piled into James car. They each pulled forcing widespread changes.
Cocaine was normal for all of them, but She maintains that, although many work- out a joint and turned on some music. Smok- There is a whole new generation of chefs
not to Hannon. He used to think that doing place factors contribute to a higher overall ten- ing weed during a shift was common for the and executive chefs that are changing that
and acquiring cocaine was as dramatic as the dency toward stress and subsequent drug use two. Thomas dealt weed from behind the fuel mold. They are trying to have a little more bal-
scenes he saw on TVwith guns and back- during and after work, the overall workplace filler door of his car, with payments made by ance for their chefs and their cooks, Clay said.
street dealsbut here it was, being spread dynamic prevalent in the restaurant industry slipping bills into his open window. James What we are dealing with in our industry is a
on his counter like it was nothing. Hannon contributed greatly to such a high incidence of was in charge of the harder stuff, the non- lot more mental health issues and theyre try-
usually declined when the five-dollar bill was drug and substance use among workers. medicinal substances like cocaine. Fairlie sat ing to bring that to the forefront and trying
passed to him, but this time curiosity got the What no one really talks about is the in the back seat, listening to the conversation to get people to talk about it because of all the
best of him. After he snorted two or three cultural component, access and presence of between the guys and the trap music playing stress (they experience).
lines, the subtle effects began to take hold. He alcohol and drugs. Particularly cocaine and in the background. Although Fairlie still drinks and smokes
felt light-headed and the music playing in the alcohol in the food and beverage industry is weed on occasion, she says that she has taken
background sounded louder. Things started very high, said McShane. Its available and measures to deal with her stress properly since
moving in slow motion around him. That everybody is doing it. Its a classic cultural leaving Fionn MacCools. She actively tries to
night the three became closer as friends and thing, the peer pressure. In a heightened environment surround herself with people that promote a
colleagues. After all, it was a bonding experi- Hannon said that some staff would party like that sometimes you need different lifestyle.
ence. almost every weekend after their shifts. Af- When I have stress, I ground myself and
Hannon, currently a Ryerson student in ter his first time actually partaking in using
to pop a Xanax and calm the call people instead of partying it off or taking
his first year of the public health program, cocaine, Hannon began to see it happen- fuck down a smoke, Fairlie said via Facebook.
worked as a cook for about nine months. He ing at work as well. He would walk into the However, Clay maintains that a broader
was quickly exposed to the drug culture that bathroom and notice white dust on the toilet shift may have to occur in the industry to deal
existed among his co-workers. dispensers, while some of his staff would act with the labour shortage currently troubling
But the prevalence of drug and alcohol use uncharacteristically happy and energetic. The two were talking about some strip club many businesses and restaurants.
amongst restaurant workers is Now that I knew how normal of an activ- they were at the night before. James turned I applaud them for drawing a line in the
shockingly higher than any ity it was, I didnt really think of it to Fairlie and handed her the joint. Normally sand and saying were not going to do what
other industry. Stress, twice. I guess there is an unwritten she would say no, but this time she took it used to be done, were not going to work 14
harassment, long hours rule amongst co-workers, if you without a thought. Eventually the three left hours a day six days a week, Clay said. Thats
and the general permis- know someone is on it you dont the car, sprayed some Axe, and headed back where restaurateurs and chefs are having to
sive attitude that exists say anything about it, Hannon into the kitchen. rethink their ways to retain staff.
around drug and alco- said. Looking back at it now It had been almost two years that Fairlie
hol use in the work- I kind of realize how abnor- had been working at the restraurant and it *Names have been changed.
place are significant mal it is. was the summer before she started school at
factors that contribute Ryerson University in the English program.
to such high numbers. She had quit smoking weed and tak-
In 2013, Statistics ing other drugs before starting at
Canada released a Ca- the restaurant
nadian Community
Health Survey that in-
cluded questions related to
workplace stress. According
to the survey, 28.1 per cent of
workers in the restaurant industry
had reported using illicit drugs, compared
to all other industries sitting at 17.6 per cent
on average. Incidence of smoking was also