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Alcohol Recovery at the Pub: Midwestern America’s First ‘Sober Bar’


As reported by the Daily Herald, an online newspaper the covers the city of Chicago, U.S., a young recovering addict has recently opened the region’s first ‘sober bar.’ Named The Other Side, the sober meeting place is a cross between a nightclub and a recreation room – without, of course, the substances that often fuel the traditional idea of such hangouts.

Opened by 22-year-old Chris Reed, himself a recovering addict, The Other Side offers those in alcohol recovery who would otherwise socialise in bars or similar places a chance to lead a normal social life, and to meet recovering addicts outside of counselling sessions or alcohol rehab programmes.

The city’s ‘sober bar’ operates because of the non-profit New Directions Addiction Recovery Services, which uses any funds generated from its sober patrons to benefit drug education and addiction treatment initiatives.

Recovering addicts right out of an alcohol rehab programme, Reed told the Daily Herald, and looking for places other than pubs to socialise, “can only go to the movie theatre and bowling alley so many times. We’re still young, and we want to hang out. You can’t hang out with 40 people at your house.”

The Other side is an answer to the need to both socialise and be safe. There’s security at the door to ensure that everyone entering is 18 years of age and sober. There are also solemn reminders on the inside to ensure that all attendees keep their commitment to sobriety in mind; Reed and fellow board members of New Directions have hung on the walls photos of friends and community members who have lost the fight against addiction. They are silent reminders of the challenges a recovering addict faces outside of alcohol recovery.

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