The Bear Season 3 Confronts Addiction In The Restaurant Industry

This article contains spoilers for "The Bear" Season 3.

The award-winning show "The Bear" dropped its third season on June 26 (and it's even better if you watch it with Chicago-inspired foods). On the surface, "The Bear" is a show about a restaurant, but beneath the kitchen renovations and menu changes lie heavy themes about personal and family struggles. In Season 1, we learn that Carmy Berzatto's brother, Micheal, died by suicide after a long struggle with addiction. In Season 2, audiences are introduced to Carmy's mother, Donna, whose alcoholism contributes to the fractured family dynamic that we glimpse during the infamously pressurized Christmas dinner episode. Addiction has always been a strong undercurrent of the show's overall story, and Season 3 continues this trend by confronting addiction in the restaurant industry.

Along with Carmy's goal of winning The Bear a Michelin star, he also intends to quit smoking in the third season. Due to his newly renovated restaurant getting more serious, plus his implementation of a "Non-Negotiables" list designed to keep him and his team focused, Carmy wants to eliminate smoking as a time-consuming distraction. Keep in mind the kitchen motto hanging on the wall, which reads, "Every second counts." But quitting smoking is no easy feat, and though Carmy eventually reaches 41 days with no cigarettes, he's still hyper-aware of this number.

Smoking is prevalent in the restaurant industry

The restaurant industry is notoriously high-stress and fast-paced, and "The Bear" depicts this well. The industry also has a very high percentage of people who smoke. According to the CDC, roughly 27% of people in food and drink service smoke cigarettes, one of the highest rates among all industries.

According to research published in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, restaurant workers smoke due to stress in the workplace (via ScienceDirect). Although Carmy never provides a reason for his smoking, the show strongly implies that the intensity of his business is a contributing factor. He does appear to chew nicotine gum frequently throughout the season, and nicotine replacement therapy methods like this have been shown to nearly double a person's chances of quitting (via American Cancer Society). Still, smoking is harder to quit when the person is continually exposed to it through family or community, according to a 2011 study published in BMC Public Health. In an industry where co-workers may be constantly going outside to smoke, restaurant workers may find quitting even more difficult.

Although "The Bear" Season 3 ended on a cliffhanger, audiences will likely be able to follow along with more of Carmy's journey in a fourth season. This hasn't been officially confirmed but has been hinted at by the actors.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).