First Meeting of the Addictions Support Group for the Hospitality Industry

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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 to New Orleans. The first meeting will be from 11 a.m. to noon on Monday, August 22 at the 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, SC-based restaurateurs Steve Palmer and Mickey Bakst in honor of Ben Murray, a chef and co-worker who took his own life after battling alcoholism. The organization exists to provide hope, camaraderie and a way forward for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction in an industry that has one of the highest rates of substance abuse in the nation.

Ben’s Friends has chapters in 20 cities across the country and, after making its meetings virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, has begun holding in-person meetings in all locations. National Zoom meetings are still held daily, along with weekly meetings for women and men only.

For more information on the organization and details of the meeting, visit

Virginia S. Braud