PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The first sober bar in the area recently popped up in Portsmouth located on High Street.

Sober bars provide a social environment without the pressure to drink alcohol. Legally Different offers mocktails, similar to traditional alcoholic beverages, to customers.

“People can still enjoy the vibe of being the bar but don’t have that pressure,” Dr. Jackie Jackson, Owner and Founder of Legally Different, said.

Dr. Jackson said she realized the need for a place like Legally Different. The Portsmouth sober bar is a place people can enjoy music and socialize.

“I kept saying that if I ever would offer that. We really want to focus on mental clearness and mental focus. It would be something that would not interfere with that,” she said.

Dr. Jackson said she sees young people who don’t want to drink, pregnant women who want a tasty drink, and people in sobriety.

“We are seeing them come in and look at a place they can enjoy themselves,” she said.

For someone with a substance abuse disorder, a place like this could seem like an alternative. However, the Tidewater Intergroup Council spokesperson said alcoholics should be cautious.

“If I were talking to someone who was an admitted alcoholic disorder or use disorder. I would just tell them the dangers and the triggers that can happen that can make them relapse,” Phyllis said.

She has tried mocktails multiple times but says it causes triggers.

“I wanted to have something in my hand. At the time, I had an O’Doul’s and I looked at the label as I started to drink it and it said ‘non-alcoholic.’ A thought came to me maybe this is not for alcoholics,” Phyllis said. “It’s all triggers because of sensory experiences. Smelling the hops or having a special glass to hold.” 

Dr. Jackson said she puts steps in place for people who are on their sobriety journey.

“People will let you know that’s their struggle and then I’ll make that suggestion that they need to choose from the alkaline list,” she said.

The Alkaline Mocktails include an Alkaline Date No-Tini with date caramel, sea moss, and apples. Also, a Soursop No-Rita with soursop, mango and sea moss. Those ingredients don’t have alcohol, unlike some non-alcoholic beverages, such as non-alcoholic beer and wine that still have a very small percentage of alcohol to create the flavor.

“I tell them. I let them know it’s a small percentage of alcohol in this drink, in that drink and look at the ones that have nothing,” Dr. Jackson said.

Phyllis still said she wouldn’t enter a sober bar but said a sober bar is a great option for non-alcoholics.

“If they don’t have a substance abuse disorder, it’s fine. It doesn’t harm them. It’s great the fewer people out on the roads drinking, the safer our community,” Phyllis said.

It’s a reminder sobriety looks different – For some, the sober bars are a perfect place to socialize. while for some in their journey, it could derail them. Both women urged people to do what’s best for them.

The Tidewater Intergroup Council has a list of resources if you are struggling with addictions. Click here for more.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has an article about finding and getting help. For more resources, click here.