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A Sober Bar is Changing the Culture of Recovery


What are Sober Bars?

It is estimated that there are over 62,000 bars in the United States, engaging in over 24 billion dollars in business.

There are sports bars, taverns, biker bars, and bars inspired by fictional creatures. But sober bars? Absolutely!

Popular among health enthusiasts, as well as those in recovery, these bars are providing an opportunity for individuals to experience the camaraderie and connection of a bar environment, while maintaining their commitment to sober living.

And these bars are popping up all over the world.

Far from dull, drab establishments, many of them are wildly popular attractions, located in many major cities, including hotspots like San Francisco, London, and the Tribeca neighborhood of New York.

The ambiance of these establishments can vary dramatically, from high-end nightclubs, to rustic themes, to old fashioned cocktail lounges.

And the menus can include anything from beautiful, candy covered sundaes, to smoothie inspired drinks, to “mocktails,” designed to look like fancy, flavorful cocktails.

What makes these establishments impressive is less about the ingredient list, and more about the impact they are having on popular culture.

Studies have shown that the glamorization of alcohol can inspire alcohol consumption.

And that is no surprise. Smoking in movies has long been shown to normalize smoking as a social behavior, rarely showing the dangers.  

But the fields of marketing and psychology affirm that public attitudes can be influenced by making behaviors look desirable and fun.

And sober bars are doing something once thought impossible – making sobriety “cool.”

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Effects of Sober Bars on the Culture of Recovery

Most people in recovery, or who have considered reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption, have encountered the struggle of peer pressure.

Far from a behavior encountered only in high school, adults can pressure and stigmatize the decisions of their peers, as well.

This is actually so common that adults aspiring not to drink are coached to build their “drink refusal skills,” to help them get through the night.

And considering that 55 percent of Americans report having consumed alcohol in the past month, it is not uncommon to have friends or relatives who do not look favorably on losing a “drinking buddy.”

However, this culture of social pressure can have disastrous consequences.

In fact, research indicates that nearly 15 million Americans are coping with alcohol use disorder, and that, in 2012, 6.8% of the population was entirely dependent on alcohol.

While sober bars are not a solution for those who have become entangled in the addictive cycle of alcoholism, they are helping to reshape the culture of recovery in two important ways.

First, by providing adults with a sense that alcohol abstinence can be cool and trendy, as well as a benefit to their health, sober bars help to validate the interests of the “sober curious.”

This helps adults and adolescents alike picture non-drinking as an equally glamorous alternative to drinking.

Second, it is hard to deny that drinking is largely perceived as a social activity.

And while the alcohol itself may ease social interactions, for many individuals it is simply a way to meet people and connect.

Bars are establishments in which people can dress up, mingle, gather with friends, and unwind after work.

This can be so true for some individuals that they struggle to make friends after recovery since they do not know where to go for fun.

But sober bars can provide a similar feel to bar or club, providing a fun backdrop for after-work gatherings, dates, and birthday parties, that do not rely on alcohol.

This can provide greater support for those in recovery, offering a once-lost sense of social connection.

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Mental Illness and Sober Bars

Studies have shown that social isolation can be a barrier to recovery, and a catalyst for addiction.

Those who are going through recovery are encouraged to establish friendships and engage socially with individuals who share their commitment to sober living.

It can also be important that these interactions are in person, as much as possible. This is to say that, while affirming, online connections have value, they do not replicate the social and psychological benefits of feeling interpersonally accepted.

However, in a social context in which most Americans drink alcohol with regularity, there are not many opportunities for these interactions. This can have one of two dangerous consequences.

In the first scenario, an individual in recovery feels unable to engage in sober social experiences and grows isolated. Feeling unwelcome at parties and unable to enjoy holiday gatherings, they lose contact with friends. This loneliness can lead to depression, insomnia, and other mental health issues, all of which can result in relapse.

In the second scenario, the recovering addict attempts to visit a bar or social gathering in which alcohol will be present, believing they will not be tempted. However, with continued social pressure, they may become vulnerable to the presence of alcohol and compromise their recovery.

Sober bars can play a role in addressing these concerns by providing an opportunity for much-needed social interaction, in a way that affirms sober lifestyles and mental health.

Treatment and Sober Bars

It is important to state that sober bars are not a substitute for a recovery program. Alcoholism is a physical and mental illness that effects chemical balances, worsening depression, perpetuating insomnia, and leading to high risk behaviors.

Furthermore, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are serious, and in extreme cases can include seizures, nerve damage, heart attack, hallucinations, and coma. For most individuals struggling with alcohol addiction, attempts to quit “cold turkey” can lead to extreme pain, illness, and eventual relapse.

With professional treatment, it is possible to make a full recovery from alcohol abuse. The first step in the treatment program will be a medical detoxification, which will remove alcohol from the body.

This detox process may last anywhere from a few days to weeks and can include medications to help ease the burden of withdrawal symptoms. Once detox is complete, those seeking recovery are ready to begin physical and psychological healing.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one-to-one counseling, 12-Step Programs, peer support groups, nutrition therapy and other supportive programming will be offered, with the goal of helping recovering addicts build resilience and healthy coping mechanisms.

Within this context, sober bars could provide an opportunity for fun, normalcy, and connection that are consistent with long-term recovery goals.

Payment Information

As you walk through our doors, recovery, not money, should be your primary concern. Resurgence Behavior Health offers flexible treatment and payment plans that can work within almost any budget and financial situation.

We accept most PPO insurance and private forms of payment and communicate with your insurance provider on your behalf.

Just call us at 855-458-0050 and discover the difference of Resurgence Behavioral Health.

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How to Get Help

You deserve to experience freedom from addiction.

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, our recovery experts are trained and licensed in modern substance abuse recovery techniques.

Within the walls of our state-of-the-art, breathtaking locations in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Fullerton Hills, we have everything you need to minimize distractions and focus on your wellness needs.

Supported by our team, you will develop healthy coping skills, identify your triggers, and build a support system that shares your commitment to recovery.

And through participation in individual and group counseling, you will be inspired to develop a sober lifestyle while fostering strong bonds with your peers.

Every day, you will learn about addiction, recovery, and yourself.

Our holistic, evidence-based treatment program includes medical detox, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, inpatient alcohol rehabilitation, 12-Step Programs, counseling, spiritual programming, and more.

Call Resurgence Behavioral Health today and get ready for a brighter tomorrow.

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At Resurgence, we accept most PPO insurance. Verify your insurance now.