A man smokes. / iflscience.com

Joel Rivas knows first hand how hard it can be to resist the temptation of drugs when they’re right in front of you. He’s been clean 23 years, despite spending some of that time in food and hospitality.

A Latinx bartender serves alcohol to patrons./ ww2.kqued.org

That’s the industry where workers suffer from the highest rates of illicit drug use and overall substance use disorders, according to a 2015 analysis by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Latinos make up about 22% of workers in this industry which makes them especially vulnerable.

Graphic advocating for drug abuse prevention./bestdrugrehabilitation.com

That’s why the former service worker launched Heard, a nonprofit that focuses on the overall wellness of restaurant workers. Heard facilitates weekly substance abuse support group meetings in major Texas cities.

Young adults using drugs./narconon.org

Attendance at these meetings is hit or miss,  but Joel understands the reason. There is a social and cultural stigma against substance abuse and it takes courage for our gente to feel comfortable enough to attend these meetings. Sometimes as many as a dozen people attend and other times just one.

A collection of seized drugs./Patch.com

But even getting one person involved is a step forward, and Joel says Heard has motivated people to get into rehab programs. All this and the organization is only one year old!

Adelante Joel for leading such a noble cause! Beating addiction is not easy, and support and encouragement is what we need.