Getting Sober in the Restaurant Industry

People working in the restaurant industry face the unique challenge of being around alcohol as part of their daily job. For those in recovery, working with this temptation can be daunting. Adding this daily challenge on top of the long hours and inconsistent schedules restaurant work is known for can shake even those strongly rooted in their sobriety.

Below are some suggestions for maintaining sobriety while working in the restaurant industry.

Talk with Your Boss

Though it may be uncomfortable, it’s important to have a conversation with your boss at the start of your employment. In this conversation, be sure to be upfront about scheduling restrictions. If your home group is every Tuesday at 7 pm, let your boss know you are unavailable to work Tuesday evenings. Also, be sure to let your boss know that you are unable to try any beer, wine, and mixed drinks that the restaurant may be adding to their menu.

Being open can help you opt out of uncomfortable situations. Chances are you may not be alone, and another coworker may be struggling with the same issues. This gives you a chance to have an onsite buddy and recovery support system at work.

Avoid Alcohol

Consider working for a restaurant that doesn’t sell alcohol, like a breakfast spot or family diner. Even a BYOB restaurant is a better place to work if you are in recovery because there will not be alcohol lying around the restaurant for you to drink. If this doesn’t work, ask for sections farthest from the bar of if you can work shifts that tend to have lower amounts of alcohol consumption.

Set and Enforce Boundaries with Your Peers

If any of your coworkers offer you alcohol or other drugs, make sure to tell them you are in recovery from a substance use disorder. Strongly consider telling your manager about the incident, especially if it involved illegal substances.

Maintain Open Communication with Your Support System

Make sure to keep your support system aware of any issues or triggers that come up in your workplace. This includes your sponsor, home group, counselor, and anyone else who helps support your recovery. Some areas even have support groups specifically for restaurant workers.


If you’re struggling to maintain sobriety or feel you need additional resources, Rehab After Work has counselors available to help. Contact us to see how we can help you on your journey to lasting recovery.

Article Written by Shaylyn Forte, LPC, CAADC