Trainee chefs beginning work for the first time are vulnerable to risky levels of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. The present study explores the nature and extent of AOD use among this population, drivers of use, and correspondence with the stress, availability, social norms, and culture theories of employee substance use. Nine focus groups were conducted with trainee chefs from two Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges in New South Wales. Trainees' experiences of working in commercial cookery, working conditions, and AOD use were explored, and themes identified. Participants (N = 69) reported high levels of alcohol, illicit drug and tobacco use, but perceived this to be due to personal rather than work-related factors. Despite this, responses indicated that workplace factors did play a substantial role. In particular, work stress, social norms, and AOD accessibility contributed to a workplace culture that facilitated substance use. Results suggest that young chefs are heavily influenced by workplace norms regarding AOD use but seem to be largely unaware of the relationship between working conditions and alcohol and drug use. Interventions are required to raise trainees' awareness of this relationship, and to build their capacity to respond appropriately. Implications for prevention strategies are discussed.
- Substance use
- Workplace environment