“It’s the exact same concept as your local, neighborhood bar except without alcohol.”
Kimberly Yam 06/10/2016 12:20 pm ET
Recovering addicts in Crystal Lake, Illinois, have spot to chill without temptation, thanks to one nonprofit.
The Other Side is a sober bar where recovering addicts can hang out over non-alcoholic beverages. The bar, which launched in 2013, is run as part of nonprofit New Directions Addiction Recovery Services, and is meant to give recovering addicts a place to socialize, as well as a community to lean on.
“It’s a good, healthy environment,” Chris Reed, president of NDARS and a former addict himself, told The Huffington Post of the bar. “You get that family-type feeling.”
Dr. Keith Humphreys, a psychiatrist and addiction expert at Stanford Health Care, explained to HuffPost that going out or meeting people can be difficult for recovering addicts.
“There are places where a huge portion of socializing occurs around drinking and/or party drugs — college campuses, factory towns, upscale urban areas — and that poses a challenge for people in recovery,” Humphreys said.
Furthermore, the physician explained that typical bars or clubs are high-risk environments for relapse.
So that’s where The Other Side comes in. The bar has staffed hours on Thursday through Sunday. Visitors can get their fill of non-alcoholic drinks like Red Bull, and play darts, pool or ping pong. People can get together and watch the game or just hang out. The bar also hosts bigger events about once a month, including movie nights, drag shows, comedy nights and live music shows. Any profits made from the bar go toward other recovery services.
“It’s the exact same concept as your local neighborhood bar except without alcohol,” Reed said.
On the other days of the week, people who have purchased a monthly $10 membership can come into the venue to hang out, do recovery work or talk to their sponsors. There’s also a family support group that meets at the venue along with a 12-step program.
People who take advantage of the bar and all it has to offer, Reed says, seemed to have benefited from the venue and have developed strong bonds.
“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.
Indeed an environment like The Other Side’s could definitely prove helpful for those in recovery, Humphreys says.
“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,” he HuffPost. “This dry bar could meet the need for some people in recovery.”
And while The Other Side has been a place for many to bond and find support, Reed says it’s also had another effect — it’s helped him find purpose.
“Helping other people is what makes me stay motivated and stay on the right path and continue to do the things that I need to do and that ultimately keeps me sober,” he said. “In my addiction, I led a pretty purposeless life … but doing this stuff is the complete opposite of that.”
To learn more about The Other Side or its parent nonprofit New Directions Addiction Recovery Services, visit the bar’s website here.