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10 Years Sober, Katie Collier Talks Addiction In The Restaurant Industry

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Ashley Gieseking
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Katie Collier is chef and co-owner of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria.

The rates of alcohol and drug abuse are higher within the food service industry than in most others.

“It’s a high-stress, high-energy [job]. You’re problem-solving, you’re sweating — it’s really intense, and at the end of the day, it’s natural to want to decompress,” restaurateur Katie Collier said on St. Louis on the Air.

“It is so much a part of the culture that it’s almost invisible.”

And yet, Collier is a testament to the fact that you don’t need to leave the service industry to curb an addiction. After struggling with substance abuse for years, the chef and co-owner of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria is now celebrating a decade of sobriety.

“It gets easier as soon as you really surrender,” she said. “Life doesn’t get easier, and challenges still come, but the actual need to drink and the addiction and that pull, you’re relieved of that — or I am, at least.”

Collier oversees two restaurants in the St. Louis suburbs, one in Rock Hill and the other in Town and Country. And now, in response to restrictions the pandemic has placed on the industry, Collier is opening a headquarters to keep up with demand for the company’s frozen pizza.

She credits her experience with addiction for getting her through the past year.

“It’s a shock to the system when you get sober and you’ve got to change everything. And I think that happened to the world,” Collier said.

“This year has been second to the year I got sober — probably the most growth I've ever had as a person and a leader — because of all that chaos and uncertainty. It really forced me to look for opportunities to become better and pivot. For me, having that experience of rock bottom and then getting sober really set me up well for [the pandemic] as well.”

If you are or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, help is available. Reach the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 24/7 helpline by dialing 1-800-662-HELP.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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