A Restaurant Takes On the Opioid Crisis, One Worker at a Time

By on July 17, 2018

From The New York Times:  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.”

So Mr. Perez, 53, and Ms. Perez, 51, decided to take a nationwide crisis into their own hands. Last September, they opened DV8 Kitchen, a restaurant that not only hires people in treatment for addiction to opioids or other substances, but also focuses its entire business model on recovery, using the restaurant setting as a tool for rehabilitation.

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.

Here in Lexington, a charming, pasture-draped city known around the world for its horse farms, there hasn’t been a single day since July 2016 when paramedics have not administered Narcan, the lifesaving drug for opioid overdoses, to at least one person, said Lt. Jessica Bowman, a public information officer for the Lexington Fire Department.

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