Alcohol-free 'sober bar' set to open in Chicago

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   April 15, 2013 at 3:45 PM   |   0 comments

April 15 (UPI) -- The "sober bar" The Other Side will be the first of its kind in the midwest when it opens April 27 in a Chicago suburb, reports The Daily Herald. Chris Reed, president of New Directions Addiction Recovery Services, the nonprofit group behind the project, says the atmosphere is important to people in recovery.

"You can only go to the movie theater and bowling alley so many times," said Reed, 22, who's been clean for three years after a heroin addiction. "We're still young, and we want to hang out. You can't hang out with 40 people at your house."

According to its website, The Other Side intends to unify the suburbs' sober community. It will function just as a regular bar, except the strongest thing you can order is an energy drink, and proceeds will fund drug education and treatment initiatives.

Part "nightclub" and part "rec center," The Other Side is opening in a warehouse loft with couches, TV, video games and pool. There will also be live bands and dance nights with DJs open to people ages 18 and up -- and sober.

Last summer, after the funeral of a 21-year-old who died of a heroin overdose, Reed started hanging out in his warehouse, which was empty except for a boom box and a few folding chairs. Warehouse get-togethers of those in recovery grew until one night when New Directions board member Steve Staley played with his band.

More than 200 people showed up to the warehouse -- and so did the police. "That's when the city came in and said, 'Hey, we're going to have to do this in a different way,'" Reed said. He suggested to his friends that they open a sober bar like one he had seen in Los Angeles. Since then the project was flooded with volunteers.

The New Directions board members say that between them, they know 100 people who have died of drug overdoses, mostly in the suburbs. They hope their bar will help people in various stages of recovery by providing them a place to go.

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