Sober Bar In Illinois Provides a Sanctuary for Recovering Addicts

By May Wilkerson 06/14/16

The Other Side provides a safe space for sober people to socialize over non-alcohol beverages and activities like darts, pool, and ping pong. 

Sober Bar In Illinois Provides a Sanctuary for Recovering Addicts

One of the challenges of sobriety can be figuring out what to do for fun. Bars, where booze is flowing and drunk people have rambling stories to share, may not seem like an option for those who have sworn off the sauce. But at The Other Side, a sober “bar” in Crystal Lake, Illinois, recovering addicts can hang out without worrying about the temptation of alcohol, or the hassle of drunk people.

The Other Side is a venue serving alcohol-free beverages which caters to the recovery crowd. It was launched in 2013 as part of the nonprofit New Directions Addiction Recovery Services (NDARS), and was meant to provide a safe space for sober people to socialize, as well as a community to offer support. “It’s a good, healthy environment,” Chris Reed, president of NDARS and who is in recovery himself, told the Huffington Post. “You get that family-type feeling.” 

Going out or meeting people can be a challenge for those in recovery, because in our booze-soaked society, many people rely on alcohol to socialize. The Other Side hopes to change that. The bar is open Thursday through Sunday and offers a range of non-alcoholic beverages, as well as activities like darts, pool and ping pong. The venue also hosts a few monthly events, like movie nights, drag shows, comedy nights and live music. “It’s the exact same concept as your local neighborhood bar except without alcohol,” said Reed.

Another perk of a sober bar? It’s affordable. A $10 optional monthly membership to The Other Side offers members access to the venue to hang out, work with their sponsors, or attend support groups and 12-step meetings that are held there. 

Reed said the venue has fostered a sense of community among those who hang out there. “The people who are there and are a part of it and are invested in The Other Side are a close-knit group of people who just genuinely have the other people around them’s best interests in mind,” he said.

This kind of community can be a lifesaver, since isolation is often a problem for alcoholics and addicts in recovery, in some cases leading to relapse. “I recommend that people in early recovery find new activities and new people not centered on substance use — join a sports league, get involved in a faith community, do volunteer work, whatever,” Dr. Keith Humphreys, a psychiatrist and addiction expert at Stanford Health Care, told the Huffington Post. “This dry bar could meet the need for some people in recovery.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.