[image-1]Since starting Ben’s Friends, a food and beverage alcohol and drug addiction support group, in October, Steve Palmer and Mickey Bakst have been blown away by the response.

“I get three to four texts or calls a week of people interested in joining,” says Bakst. The program has expanded to Atlanta and Raleigh as well. Now, with a regular group of a dozen members coming together each Sunday for support and conversation, the Charleston Grill GM says that he and Palmer, Indigo Road restaurants’ managing partner, decided it was time to expand the program locally. Beginning next week, Ben’s Friends will add a meeting each Thursday at Indaco at noon.

“We have six people under 30 days sober,” says Bakst. “We knew we needed to add an additional day, especially on a day going into the weekend which can be the hardest time. It’s also not always easy for people to make it on Sundays. A lot of people work brunch or have things going on.”

Palmer and Bakst hope the additional help will benefit members, but even with two meetings a week now they’re realistic about their mission. “The reality of the illness is the success rate is very low,” says Bakst. According to the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, for alcohol abuse-impacted individuals who try to quit, roughly 38 percent relapse. For drug addicts it’s 40 to 60 percent.

But even with those odds, as success stories themselves, Palmer and Bakst are committed to trying to help Charleston’s food and beverage members facing addiction.

For more information on Ben’s Friends meetings, contact Mickey Bakst at mickey.bakst@belmond.com or Steve Palmer at spalmer@theindigoroad.com. Or search Ben’s Friends on Facebook.

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