Sober bars are a tempting option for those balancing their lives after attending a center for drug and alcohol treatment. While maintaining abstinence from alcohol is the cornerstone of one’s recovery, there is still a need to engage in social outlets, and sober bars can be an option for those exploring their social needs while prioritizing their abstinence. However, sober bars come with their own risks, and being informed of their potential dangers can help individuals make the best decisions based on their personal goals and continued sobriety.

What Are Sober Bars?

Sober bars seek to emulate many of the social aspects of traditional bars, except without serving any alcohol to patrons. By creating a similar feel to traditional bars, at these venues, those in recovery can continue to engage in a socially interactive environment to meet new people and further escape and release daily stresses while also ensuring that such events maintain a sober focus.

The Benefits of Sober Bars

Sober bars are designed with sobriety in mind, and by surrounding oneself with sober individuals, there is little peer pressure to engage with any kind of alcohol. One can enter these environments safe in the knowledge that alcohol is deliberately kept absent from the premises. This feeling of safety, coupled with the knowledge that one is surrounded by like-minded individuals, allows each person to delve into the social aspects of these locations with fewer worries.

Recovery can make one wary of talking to others in order to avoid discussing one’s past with addiction, and sober bars can eliminate this potential conversation and instead promote different topics without alcohol being involved or discussed.

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The Dangers and Challenges of Sober Bars

Even while sober bars can be a phenomenal social outlet for those maintaining sobriety, they still come with risks, including:

#1. The Bar Atmosphere

First, even while the bar itself is kept sober, the bar atmosphere can bring up many impulses connected to one’s past alcohol use in similar settings. Simply being in a bar atmosphere can be a stressful, triggering event that is unnecessary and avoidable for those continuing to prioritize their transformed lifestyle.

#2. Normalize Going to the Bar

Sober bars can also normalize the practice of going to the bar again — a notion that may be detrimental to one’s continued sobriety. While the sober bars themselves are devoid of alcohol, normalization of the bar atmosphere can carry its own dangers as an individual finds it easier to enter these spaces again. This can also translate from sober bars to ones that serve alcohol, effectively compromising one’s hard-earned progress in sobriety.

#3. Not Everyone May Be Sober

Lastly, just because one is in a sober bar doesn’t mean that all people in attendance will necessarily share one’s story or are dedicated to maintaining a sober lifestyle. While one may run into others looking to maintain their sobriety after addiction, others in attendance may be “sober curious” or simply exploring sobriety for an evening or avoiding negative repercussions on a work night. 

While the people one meets at a sober bar may be sober on that night, that doesn’t mean they are wholly dedicated to maintaining such sobriety. As a result, this can create a complex relationship based on sobriety that may not reflect what a continued friendship or camaraderie may look like.

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Making the Decision

While sober bars present a unique opportunity for social interaction for those in recovery, they are not without dangers and should be approached with care. Having support accompany one to these locations can help those in recovery better gauge their reaction to the atmosphere, adding an outside perspective on how one continues to engage in this kind of social environment.

Likewise, the socialization conducted at sober bars is not intended to be a replacement for other avenues, such as one’s hobby groups, sports leagues, or other recovery practices such as outpatient therapy or meetings. If an individual elects to explore sober bars cognizant of the risks involved, it should be approached as a supplement to one’s already established social outlets.

Keeping tabs on one’s frequency of attendance and how sober bars affect one’s mentality surrounding sobriety is also essential. Journaling, discussing one’s experiences with others, or using sober bars exclusively as a celebratory outlet alongside friends and family can help manage one’s frequency and attitude toward sober bars. 

Balancing the potential benefits of sober bars alongside their risks and discussing one’s feelings surrounding them is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship with this particular outlet. However, prioritizing one’s continued sobriety is essential, even if it means acknowledging and having the agency to excuse oneself from a sober bar due to the risks it presents.

Sober bars present a unique approach to social interaction. However, they also carry several risks and dangerous connotations that need to be monitored. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the need to balance your social needs with your continued sobriety and are prepared to help you create a plan that is best for you. Your time at our alcohol treatment center in Hawaii can be personalized to fit your unique approach to sobriety, backed with a powerful sense of community and supportive atmosphere to help you feel included and valued as a member of a continuously growing social group dedicated to sobriety. We also offer an array of therapeutic approaches, from individual and group therapy to EMDR, Dharma recovery practices, meditation, yoga, and much more, to help you create a healthy lifestyle. For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (866) 390-5070.

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