For most adults, spending your free time at the neighbourhood bar is the default plan during a night where you feel like socializing and hanging out with friends. Although for many people that are dealing with addictions such as alcoholism, going to a bar without having the freedom to order an alcoholic beverage can lead to stress and pressure, while risking the possibility of a relapse into harmful behavior. For those that have given up alcohol and are struggling with dealing with their addictions, these people would rather not put themselves in a position of being in that type of ambience.
There are also people, who despite not bring addicted to alcohol, would prefer not to submerge themselves into the world that represents hangovers, DUIs and all the problems that come with excessive alcohol use such as anxiety and depression, substance abuse, fatty liver and other sicknesses like strokes and dementia.
In the United States, alcohol-free options are becoming increasingly popular and that is why new “sober bars” are making headlines for recovering addicts and alcoholics who are seeking a healthy alternative filled with fun, lively community and support.
These bars are exactly like the real thing, except alcohol is not being served. Adults are still fully enjoying themselves in the night scene with beverages like virgin cocktails, fruit shakes, matcha tea lattes and even ice-cold non-alcoholic beers like the Heineken 0.0.
In Barstrop, Texas, there is a sober bar there called the Cherokee Recovery Village where adults can have a sense of belonging, without getting back to substance abuse.
The interiors look exactly like a traditional pub. Its dark and dingy, filled with wooden shelves of drinks – but this time, they are all non-alcoholic, KEYE reports. To substitute beer and hard liquor, customers can have their fair share of coffee and kombucha, while singing Karaoke, or joining community dinners.
Paul French, owner of Cherokee Recovery Village was also a former addict now working as a licensed chemical dependency counselor. He says that being in this venue’s ambience is a crucial help for those in recovery.
“This is exposing yourself to triggers intentionally to weaken those triggers.
It will allow you to eventually go into establishments where there’s drinking and partying and craziness and it won’t affect you as strongly as it did. You can come in and you can drink. We only have healthy beverages.”
This “sober bar” is also a good chance for people to keep being committed to their 12-step program in another place aside from their Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or their homes.
“People need connection once they start a recovery program,” French added
Despite the bar’s name, Cherokee Recovery Village is not just a bar for recovering addicts, but even for the sober who finds being in a ‘bar scene’ fun.
French said: “It has really wakened people up on the health benefits of getting sober even if it’s just for a short period of time.”
Ember Zenchyshyn, an alcoholic that has been three years sober to this date said that the dry tavern doesn’t only provide a fun lifestyle option, but it also prepares her for the time when she has to inevitably step foot in a bar – and will have the willpower to refuse an alcoholic drink. “You’re not going to be able to avoid stuff forever. It’s life, you just don’t want to get into recovery to stop living life, you’re getting into recovery to enjoy life,” says Zenchyshyn.