First Meeting of Addiction Support Group for Hospitality Industry

Meeting Of Mental Health Support Group Defocused
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NEW ORLEANS – Ben’s Friends, a national support group for people in the hospitality industry struggling with addiction, has announced its expansion into New Orleans. The first meeting will take place from 11 a.m. to noon on Monday, Aug. 22 at NOCHI Dining Lab (725 Howard Avenue). Meetings are scheduled at the same time, day and place in the coming weeks. The chapter will be led by Liam Doran and Alex Harrel, both longtime members of the New Orleans food and beverage industry who have found sobriety in recent years.

Ben’s Friends was founded in 2016 by Charleston, S.C.-based restaurateurs Steve Palmer and Mickey Bakst in honor of Ben Murray, a chef and colleague who took his own life after struggling with alcoholism. The organization exists to offer hope, fellowship and a path forward for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction in an industry that has one of the highest rates of substance abuse in the country.

Ben’s Friends has chapters in 20 cities across the country and, after taking its meetings virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, has begun to host in-person meetings in all locations. National Zoom meetings are still hosted daily, as well as weekly women- and men-only meetings.

For more information on the organization and meeting details visit

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