Miller Ford, new leader of Ben’s Friends, comes full circle

Miller Ford talks during the Aspen Together mental health panel on Nov. 29, 2021, in the Wheeler Opera House.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

In 2015, Miller Ford went viral for a cocaine-related statement he gave to the Aspen Police. Now, with six and a half years of sobriety under his belt, he is the leader for the new Aspen chapter of Ben’s Friends.

“I was a good candidate to begin this chapter because I know the different ins and outs of trying to navigate service industry life while being sober,” Ford said.

He was briefly infamous after brushing a line of white powder off a bench in town around 2 a.m. when police stopped him and then asked if the white powder in his nose was cocaine: “Of course I have cocaine up my nose,” the officer said Ford told him. “It’s Aspen.”

The incident led to a probation sentence, coverage that reached The New York Times and what his attorney called “a serious eye-opener for him.”

Ben’s Friends is a national support group for anyone in the hospitality industry struggling with addiction. Meetings are open to anyone who is interested in sobriety, whether they have begun their journey or not.

Led by Ford, the Aspen chapter hosted it first meeting Aug. 29, just in time for the start of National Recovery Month in September.

Ford is a long-time member of the food and beverage industry in Aspen. He has worked in the service industry for 17 years and continued working in the industry throughout his sobriety journey.

He found sobriety through a different avenue, but leading the Aspen chapter of Ben’s Friends is his way to give back to the community, he said.

“Any time you do service there’s a benefit personally, but it’s more about the outreach at this point,” Ford said.

Ford is now a comedian in the valley and bases some of his standup routines off of his experiences.

Going forward, Ford said the goal is to be available to people who want to check out a different type of support group in town. Although nationally Ben’s Friends focuses on supporting those in the food and beverage industry, Ford said he wants to make sure that anyone in the Aspen hospitality industry has a place to get support.

“If you’re a person who is working in this town in hospitality, with tourists and visitors, you are more than welcome to come to this meeting,” he said.

Meetings are held every Monday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and are led by Ford. In addition to the live meetings on Mondays, there is the option to attend daily meetings virtually. Daily meetings are nationwide and start at 1 p.m. ET. Daily virtual meetings can be accessed on the Ben’s Friends website.