Are Sober Bars Worth It?


Sober bars can have benefits and dangers for those in recovery. Learn more about maintaining a sober lifestyle by visiting The Edge today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer


January 13, 2022

No matter where you are in your recovery journey, the temptation for a drink can still linger. As you gain more time in sobriety, the opportunity for new social events will come up. It can be especially challenging to navigate these experiences and turn down a drink where alcohol is served. 

As someone in recovery, you may even avoid social events due to the fear of alcohol relapse. Unfortunately, this can create a sense of disconnection, as you might feel like you are missing out on important events in your life and the lives of others. However, some options are available that can help you satisfy your need to socialize, including sober bars. 

What Are Sober Bars? 

Sober bars are establishments that capture the essence of a bar without serving alcohol of any kind. It’s a concept that has existed for quite a long time, and it’s not necessarily made for only those in recovery from alcohol addiction. 

According to a March 2021 article from Movendi called “Sober Bars: Booming Business Model Around the World,” sober bars serve different kinds of people who wish to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume or for people who are alcohol-free. 

The Option for Non-Alcoholic Alternatives

One of the most significant factors in sober bars is non-alcoholic alternatives to popular drinks. Many people in recovery drink “mocktails” as a way to feel a part of during events, and sober bars make it so that everyone is partaking in this experience. 

A Deeper Look at Non-Alcoholic Beer

Although beers served at sober bars and sold across the country are known as “alcohol-free beer,” many popular brands actually contain 0.5% alcohol. While it is unlikely that you will notice any effect from drinking such a small amount of alcohol, non-alcoholic beer can pave the way to rationalize having a stronger drink.

Aside from the low alcohol content, non-alcoholic beer is exactly like normal beer. The look, smell, and taste of beer – even the fact that the label and bottle are virtually identical – can be a significant trigger for someone in recovery. The same sensory experiences of drinking beer, minus the intoxicating effect, can cause frustration and cravings. 

Non-alcoholic beer can also trigger a condition known as euphoric recall, a form of selective memory in which someone in recovery glamorizes their active addiction while ignoring all the negative effects it had on their life. In the face of extreme cravings, this problem intensifies even more.

Unfortunately, drinking non-alcoholic beer can be a scary road to travel. While the decision regarding non-alcoholic beer is ultimately up to you, it is best to speak to a counselor, sponsor, or peer in recovery before deciding this is a route to take in recovery. 

The Dangers of Sober Bars

Unfortunately, non-alcoholic beer and mocktails can stir up thoughts of drinking for some people. With such similar tastes, you may begin to crave regular alcohol. 

The atmosphere of a bar can also be triggering for many people. You may have past feelings and experiences related to bars and being in a similar environment can bring these up. As a result, it can be tempting to fall back into old habits. 

The Benefits of Sober Bars

While mocktails, non-alcoholic beer, and a bar environment can be triggering there are also benefits to sober bars. These benefits include: 

  • Having a safe environment to socialize

  • Helping you create a way to develop a healthy habit of having sober fun

  • Providing a place to escape from alcohol

  • The opportunity to expand your social circle

So, Are Sober Bars Worth It? 

Whether or not a sober bar is worth the risk is up to you. Overall, the environment of a sober bar works differently depending on the individual. You may be triggered to drink again, or you may be able to have fun and find a new place to socialize without the urge to drink. 

If you are someone in recovery, consider the following before deciding if a sober bar is right for you: 

  • Speak to your therapist beforehand

  • Keep your coping skills in mind

  • Get the support you need from friends and family

Alternatives to Sober Bars

While sober bars can seem like a great option for creating new connections with other people who do not drink, they can be tempting for some people. If the social aspect of sober bars appeal to you, but the idea of mocktails, non-alcoholic beer, and a bar atmosphere does not consider these alternatives: 

  • Finding a peer support group, including alumni groups

  • Set up weekly phone calls with friends and family to keep yourself connected

  • Join a sports club for sober people

  • Find activities you enjoy and join clubs; similar interests can help you create bonds

  • Volunteer in your community

Leaving treatment can be frightening and exciting, with the prospect of leaving your old life behind and creating something new for yourself. A significant part of recovery is creating social connections and finding fun without the use of drugs and alcohol. For many people, sober bars help fulfill this need. However, there are both dangers and benefits to sober bars. Here at The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the fear of relapsing during recovery. Our group of treatment professionals can help you navigate life post-treatment safely and effectively. We are here to help you maintain sobriety and feel confident in your recovery. For more information on how we can support you, call us today!

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