2 women at a sober bar

Sober Bars: A Healthy Alternative for People in Recovery

By Nicole Arzt is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in providing psychotherapy for individuals, families, and groups struggling with substance use disorders and psychiatric illnesses.

Sober Recovery Expert Author

2 women at a sober bar

In 2015, the US bar industry was worth a staggering $23 billion. Likewise, there are almost 63,000 bars, taverns, and nightclub enterprises in America alone.

Think that a bar without booze isn't, well, a bar at all? Think again. Today, more and more people are pursuing the sober bar scene for fun, socialization, and recovery connection. Let's get into more detail about this healthy alternative.

Sober bars help people relax and enjoy themselves without the temptation of alcohol.

What Exactly Are Sober Bars?

Sober bars help sober people relax, decompress, and enjoy themselves without the temptation of drugs or alcohol. Sober bars provide non-alcoholic beverages like sodas, energy drinks, and hand-crafted, specialty mocktails.

Additionally, many of them also serve appetizers and entrees. They may also offer entertainment options like live music, dancing, game rooms, and karaoke. In other words, you're getting the same benefits of the bar scene without the alcohol.

Who Should Go To A Sober Bar?

Sober bars aren't just restricted to sober people. Anyone who wants to hang out and enjoy themselves without alcohol is welcome to join.

Many people in recovery do not like being around the blatant temptation of alcohol. Likewise, bars—with all their obscene displays of intoxication—can be downright annoying if you're committed to a sober lifestyle.

However, there are also many people who just don't like or want to drink alcohol. They may want to be supportive of their friends in recovery. Or, they may be interested in having a good time (while still remembering the series of events the next morning).

Where Are These Sober Bars?

Although they are up-and-coming, the presence of sober bars obviously pales into comparison to the presence of traditional bars or taverns.

That said, statistics are changing, and more business owners are jumping on this lucrative idea. Today, sober bars are popping up in metropolitan areas around the world. Areas include London, Dublin, Portland, New York City, Austin, and Los Angeles.

Sober bars aren't necessarily a new trend. In as early as the 19th century, the UK established temperance bars during their temperance movement. Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar, founded in 1890, still proudly serves drinks like root beer to its patrons daily.

What About Fitting In At Regular Bars?

There isn't a hard-and-fast rule that people in recovery can't enjoy regular bars. Maybe you enjoy socializing with certain friends and colleagues at work, and you don't want to miss out. Maybe the scene isn't inherently triggering for you.

Regardless of the circumstance, it's all about knowing your limits and your comfort zone. It isn't worth jeopardizing your hard work just to fit in or have one good night. Moreover, it isn't worth going to a regular bar just to feel miserable and resentful all night. Use your judgment and make sure that you have an actionable plan in place in case you find yourself in a triggering situation.

Closing Thoughts

As more people embrace the concept of having fun in recovery, sober bars will likely continue to increase in popularity. They provide a wonderful alternative for people who still want to have fun without mood-altering substances.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-772-8219 to start the road to recovery.

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