Sober Bars: A Fun Alternative

Got weekend plans? Maybe you used to be the city socialite, hitting up bars and staying out until daybreak with your friends. But when you’re recovering from an addiction, your priorities change. Going to your usual night-on-the-town spots may pose a challenge with the accessibility of alcohol and club drugs. Should you go out and try to resist the urge of temptation? Or should you just stay in and watch a movie?

It’s time to ditch rowdy clubs for a different type of nightlife: sober bars. Sober bars, like Lights Out in Lancaster, PA, are bridging the gap between the social scene and alcohol-free fun. Hanging out with friends doesn’t need to revolve around happy hours and brunches with unlimited bubbly. With sober bars, you can still have an exciting night out, without the headache and nauseousness of a hangover the next day.

There are many risk factors that can fuel an addiction relapse. Sober bars provide a safe, social outlet that reduce substance abuse temptations and triggers.

What Are Sober Bars?

Until recently, individuals recovering from an addiction had limited late-night options for things to do. Bars, restaurants, clubs, and other establishments are flooded with alcoholic beverages and relapse temptations. People may also start to pepper you with questions about your sobriety or try and get you to “have one just to loosen up.” After a while, you may decide to avoid nightlife altogether.

“If you’ve stopped drinking, [friends think], ‘Ok, come out and do all this stuff with us,’ but you still have a lot of work to do. And then the [addict] is like, ‘Oh yeah, why can’t I just have 1 drink?’

- Tess Brigham, marriage and family therapist

With more people seeking treatment for substance abuse than ever before, sober bars are a trend that have caught on quickly. An idea that started in Europe, alcohol-free bars are now popping up in cities throughout the United States.

You can sip on mocktails – spiritless cocktails – and other alcohol-free beverages at sober bars without facing the temptation of old habits.

Sober bars provide a wide range of nonalcoholic beverage options such as:

  • Club sodas and lime
  • Arnold Palmers
  • Nada daiquiris
  • Shirley Temples
  • Virgin Daiquiris
  • Mock champagnes

Just like other bars, sober bars have plenty of games and entertainment. From pool tables and video games to TVs, darts, ping pong, and live bands, there’s always something to partake in. Some sober bars have contests and different nightly events – trivia night, karaoke night, 80s night, and sports night – to draw in crowds.

A Safe Place For Everyone

Sober bars aren’t just for those in recovery. Many establishments have reached a broad audience, made up of different ages, genders, ethnicities, or beliefs. For example, sober bars provide a safe, fun environment for pregnant women, individuals who abstain from drinking for religious or personal beliefs, those who are health conscious, as well as young adults who are under 21 years old.

It’s a good, healthy environment. It’s the exact same concept as your local neighborhood bar except without alcohol.

- Chris Reed, president of New Directions Addiction Recovery Services

Patrons of sober bars are generally looking for somewhere to hang out without the pressure to drink or experiment with drugs. It’s also a great way to meet and connect with sober peers around your local community. You can dance, play games, and have a great time with those around you without the pressure to get drunk. Sober bars offer a unique alternative for a friend’s night out, celebration, or other party.

Bars, pubs, and clubs can turn risky when people consume too much alcohol and begin acting inappropriately. Sober bars offer a safe environment to relax and have a good time.

How Can You Maintain Your Sobriety?

As sober bars continue to expand into different regions, you will meet new friends who support and encourage your sobriety. Your friends will be there to celebrate your recovery milestones and will lift you up through challenging situations.

Sober bars offer a safe haven and an outlet to those in recovery as well as other community members.

Substance abuse may be part of your past, but it doesn’t need to be part of your future.

Last Updated:


Addiction Center

Photo of Addiction Center
  • Since 2014, Addiction Center has been an informational web guide for those who are struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring behavioral and mental health disorders. All content included on Addiction Center is created by our team of researchers and journalists. Our articles are fact-based and sourced from relevant publications, government agencies and medical journals.

  • More from Addiction Center