Addiction in the Kitchen by Chef Seth MacKenzie (CulinaryAnarchy)

Most people might think that I’m somehow pro-drugs. This is not the case. I am however, very pro choice on just about everything, even if I’m not into it myself. If you’re overweight, I’m not going to tell you eat a cheesecake and if you’re a drunk, I’m not going to buy you a drink. That being said, I think that people should have the right to choose what they do with and put in their own bodies.

The ugly side of this is that often times, especially in the service industry, a good time can turn into an addiction faster than most people realize, and when it does- it gets nasty. Now I’m not judging. I’ve been dealing with these issues my whole life and will have to watch myself til the day I die. I’m a drunk and I know it. While I won’t blame the industry, the culture is one that typically enables this kind of thing, since we grow numb to it after a few years. We’re so used to being around it that it doesn’t seem abnormal to us anymore. This is why “normal” people weird me out.

With my family history there’s no way I wouldn’t have had a problem with this stuff at some point in my life. Looking at both the genetic and environmental factors, I honestly have to say that I got off pretty easily compared to how things could have ended up.

Cigarettes at 12, weed at 13, booze at 14…… Oddly enough I didn’t try cocaine until I was 24 and didn’t try LSD until I was 34 in the jungles of Hawaii.

I started working in a bar surrounded by drunks and junkies of various degrees. Is it any surprise when I had a wake up call and ended up in AA when I was 19?

For this I am grateful.

For all of it really. I’d be lying like a motherfucker if I didn’t say that most of the best times of my life have been with friends getting stoned. The reason I met my best friend of over 22 years is due to the fact that he was grounded and asked me to pick him up some weed after school. Some of the deepest, soul shattering insights I’ve ever had has been while on mushrooms. What I’m saying is that it wasn’t all bad.

Neither is the person dealing with the disease.

That’s all it is, it’s a fucked up disease. Now, the thing is that most people want to say that someone is an alcoholic or an addict but from everything that I’ve experienced, they are one in the same, the poison of choice is just a symptom of a greater underlying problem.

When you fuck up and say “Shit, I won’t do that again” only to try to justify “One more time” or “This time will be different”, this is when you have a problem. Some of my worst benders have been in the kitchen, without booze, yet the madness and obsession was still there in full force. Believe it or not, there is a difference between being driven and being on a full blown bender.

A shift drink after work can turn into dependency pretty fast and yet you never see it happening, it’s only when you look back in hindsight. It goes from fun to fucked and often back to fun before it gets really fucked up. And then one day you wake up and you don’t want it anymore. You’re sick of it, and yet- you need it.

Everyone goes through their own personal hell with this. Not everyone has to lose a wife and kids and a house to hit a bottom. It’s when your best efforts have yielded shit and you’re at a dead end. This is not something that you would consider a fun experience yet this is often what it takes to wake us up and take action to change things.

Now please keep in mind that I’m not really trying to endorse any kind of faith or organization but I spent enough time in AA to know what I know. Like everything else, these places have their own faults and yet I can’t help but say that the basic guidelines of the 12 steps are a good practice and can improve your life regardless of you having addiction issues or not.

As far as the whole religious thing…yes I believe that there is something way bigger than I can comprehend out there, and that all of this is connected in a way that I don’t understand. I rest easy in knowing how insignificant my bullshit is in the grand scheme of the things, and I find peace in prayer and meditation. So sue me.

What I’m trying to say is that if you know you have issues, you can deal with the shit head on or let it call the shots. The booze wasn’t the issue with me, I had to take an honest look and fix myself, and face some nasty shit. Once I became aware of the situation, once I understood my knee jerk reaction to things, the booze became less of an issue.

I’m not cured by a long shot. I haven’t been to a meeting in years and I hope I never have to go back…but when I needed it, those rooms and those people saved my life. I still drink from time to time and I smoke a lot of weed. At the same time I don’t ever drink when I’m pissed or upset. I’m also very blessed with friends who know what the signs are and will call me out at the drop of a dime.

From time to time we all need to take a step back and assess the situation and make some necessary, though often painful changes in our lives. Either we can do it willingly or the universe, karma, fate, whatever can force our hand.

In closing, if any of this resonates with you, then you might want look at your options. There is no shame is seeking help if you are sick. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or anything like that. It just means you have to deal with your own shit to find some peace. After all, isn’t that what we’re all searching for?

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