Clean and Sober Together
April 21, 2013

Clean And Sober Together

…that’s what one group of individuals is attempting in the Midwest, according to a Daily Herald article a few days ago. Chris Reed, president of the nonprofit group New Directions Addiction Recovery Services, which is behind the project for a sober bar, said of recovering addicts, “Bars aren’t good because alcohol and drug addiction are so similar.”

And he and many of the other board members for New Directions would know because they are recovering addicts. Reed’s addiction was heroin, but as he said, alcohol and drug addiction are very similar. So he and the rest of the New Directions board are set to open The Other Side, a bar without booze for recovering addicts as well as those who just want a sober place to commune with others. The aim: to unify the suburb’s sober community and change the stigma associated with those who live a sober life.

At The Other Side, the stiffest drink one can order is an energy drink. Moreover, it is not a business meant to make money. All money raised will fund drug education and treatment initiatives.

The Daily Herald describes the place:

“Falling somewhere between ‘nightclub’ and ‘rec center,’ The Other Side is opening in the warehouse loft space behind Reed’s construction company on Berkshire Drive. It has room for people to relax on couches, watch TV, play pool or video games, listen to live bands, or dance along with a disc jockey. There will be security, and people will be carded at the door to make sure they’re at least 18 years old — and sober.”

That sounds like a perfect place to go and have fun without the temptation of drugs or alcohol. I know many successful recovering addicts, and I know some who have tried the programs but found themselves in the same situation falling prey to the same drugs. Part of their problem is that when they leave rehab, they go right back to the places they got drugs, back to the same people who still use. They may have gone to rehab, but not all of their friends and family have, so the newly released recovering addict finds him or herself tempted once more.

And they fall short. The temptations are too heavy for an addict in these situations. I have also known recovering addicts who did not fall back into their old patterns with their old friends, but they had to move and completely cut that life off. The rare few are able to live where they used and live amongst those with whom they used.

In any of these cases, a sober bar like The Other Side could be a life saver. For those who truly want sobriety but do not want to give up a social life, then a sober place with activities, music, and others who accept and support their sober living sounds like just the thing. Of the people I have known who fell back into their addictions, it was their lack of support that most affected their decisions.

Naturally, I am not saying that these addicts should get a pass just because their friends and family did not support their sober living. We are all responsible for our individual choices; however, an addict who finds him or herself in a situation to use without anyone to help them resist is a like a child being tempted by an open cookie jar, only the addict’s “cookie” can kill with first bite.

A place where one can go and feel support from others who know the plight is a place where an addict can find help and friends and a social life away from drugs. Yes, I think this sober bar is well worth the effort and cost. Way to go New Directions Addiction Recovery Services!

Image Credit: karen roach / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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