In 2013, New Directions Addiction Recovery Services (NDARS) of Crystal Lake, Illinois  launched The Other Side, a sober bar that provides a place for people recovering from addiction to socialize and get support.

For many recovering addicts, going out and meeting people presents challenges to staying sober. Often times, a typical night out involves drug-use and alcohol-consumption, increasing the risk of relapse. However, those risks are minimized at The Other Side where patrons hang out over non-alcoholic beverages such as Red Bull.

“It’s a good, healthy environment,” said Chris Reed, president of the NDARS and a former addict. “You get that family-type feeling.”

The bar is opened from Thursday to Sunday and offers a variety of activities such as pool, ping-pong, and watching sports. Once a month, the bar offers special events including movie nights, comedy shows, and concerts. Profits from these events go towards other recovery services.

People who have purchased a monthly $10 membership are able to hang out at the bar, talk to their sponsors, and get counseling. In addition, a family support group and 12-step program holds meetings at the bar.

A strong community has formed at The Other Side as people have come together to build connections and support each other through recovery.

“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,” Reed said. “In my addiction, I led a pretty purposeless life but doing this stuff is the complete opposite of that.”

Jowelle M. is a college student interested in sociology, political science, and Spanish. Aside from academics, Jowelle enjoys blogging, reading, music, and spending time with family. She is happiest when she is working with others to improve the community.