Being in recovery from addiction can be a major impediment to finding work, especially when the addict has also been incarcerated. Many male Hispanic addicts in recovery find themselves in this position, and without a job and without something to do to occupy their time, these men have no income and often no motivation to say clean. A new restaurant recently opened in Worcester, Massachusetts, with the goal of helping to give these men the motivation, skills and income necessary to build new, sober lives.
The Importance of Work in Recovery, and the Struggle to Find Work
Recovery from addiction is a challenge because so many triggers, temptations and internal voices tell the addict to start using again. Early recovery is particularly challenging, and when the addict has little to occupy his time, the temptations become even greater. Having a job is a great motivating factor for staying sober. It’s also a practical necessity, as many recovering addicts have little to no money upon leaving treatment.
Unfortunately, many addicts newly in recovery struggle to find jobs. Many of these addicts have served time in prison, which is another mark on their records. It’s hard to find employers willing to give these men a chance, and even for those who do want to help, they may find the recovering addicts don’t have the skills to do the job well.
New Hope for Recovering Hispanic Addicts
For Hispanic men recovering from addiction in Worcester, there is a new source of hope for employment and for staying sober. Dr. Matilde Castiel of the University of Massachusetts Medical School founded the new Café Reyes, a Cuban restaurant staffed by Hispanic men in recovery from addiction. All of the men come from the Hector Reyes House, which is a residential treatment program for male Hispanic addicts recovering from substance use disorders.
Dr. Castiel’s idea was to give these men a place to learn job skills. They learn everything from the general basics of being on time for work and writing resumes to the more specific skills of working in a restaurant. Another important aspect of the training is simply the confidence that it gives these men. They get to transition from recovery and treatment to the working world in a safe environment where they feel comfortable learning and making mistakes.
Working at Café Reyes doesn’t just give the men job skills and an income. It also helps the recovering addicts stay sober. Being in early recovery with nothing to do is a recipe for disaster. Staying busy and having something worthwhile to occupy their time not only keeps thoughts of relapsing at bay, but also provides a healthy dose of motivation to stay clean. Why relapse when you have something to do and when people are counting on you?
A final but no less important aspect of Café Reyes is the role it plays in the community. Staffing a restaurant with recovering addicts helps the men, but it also helps to educate the public. It brings the recovering addicts together with members of the community and brings awareness to the struggles that these men face every day.
Café Reyes is still new, but everyone has high hopes that it will be a success. The men working at the restaurant will not be there forever. They will learn the skills they need to get other jobs and will gain the confidence needed to apply for and get those jobs. The restaurant may even serve as a model for other communities and bring its message of hope and help to more places.