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Foodservice employee substance abuse: is anyone getting the message?

Miranda Kitterlin (Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management , Florida International University, North Miami, Florida, USA)
Lisa Moll (William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Gabriela Moreno (Florida International University, North Miami, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 13 July 2015




The purpose of this study is to investigate foodservice industry employees’ experiences and perceptions related to substance abuse prevention measures in the workplace.


A qualitative approach was used for this foundational study, and data collection occurred by conducting in-depth interviews with 30 foodservice employees.


Participants reported that, in their perceptions, substance abuse prevention measures were virtually non-existent at their places of employment. The few participants that were aware of such policies indicated that they had never seen the policy actually enforced.

Practical implications

The results of this exploratory study suggest that foodservice employees may not be receiving adequate messages about workplace substance abuse prevention policies nor are they developing an adequate awareness of such policies. Further, where such policies are in place, they may not being adequately enforced, implying negligent business practices. Failure to display a presence and communication of workplace substance abuse policies and prevention efforts for this potentially high-risk population is both organizationally and socially irresponsible. Suggestions for the implementation of such harm reduction strategies are also provided, as is a call for further research conducted in a quantifiable method to offer more generalizable results.


No previous study has investigated employee awareness of substance abuse policies and prevention measures or harm reduction strategies in the foodservice workplace. This study provides a step toward understanding foodservice employee substance abuse and prevention that was previously lacking in the literature.



This study was funded by the Coca-Cola Professorship Endowment, via the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University.


Kitterlin, M., Moll, L. and Moreno, G. (2015), "Foodservice employee substance abuse: is anyone getting the message?", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 810-826.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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