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More and more recovery cafés are opening around the UK. Although they are common in America, the UK is following suit and more people are attending these recovery cafés. You can find recovery cafés in London, Glasgow, and pretty much all over the UK. They are usually run by addicts, for addicts.

You may have heard famous names such as Russell Brand promoting the concept of recovery cafes, but what exactly is a recovery café? And how can a recovery cafe benefit you if you are recovering from alcohol use disorder? That’s what we’re going to explore on this page. Read on to learn more about recovery cafes and their benefits.

What is a Recovery Cafe?

A recovery café is essentially a social cafe for those in addiction recovery, whether it be alcohol or drugs. As well as enjoying coffee and cake, you can socialise with other people in similar situations as yourself, or simply those whose lives have been affected by alcoholism or addiction.

They provide a safe and welcoming space where there is no access to alcohol. In a recovery café, you can socialise with other members of the community and support each other through your recovery journey.

You can also find activities at recovery cafés – whether it be fun games such as chess, connect 4, board games, or community events. Some cafés feature guest speakers, or allow members to give talks about their goals, or share motivational speeches.

You won’t be forced to share your experiences or your story at a recovery café. Instead, you’ll be given the space to open up if you wish. If you’ve ever been to Alcoholics Anonymous or other support groups, you’ll be refreshed by the laid-back atmosphere at recovery cafés.

Like regular cafés, recovery cafés tend to be open throughout the week, including weekends – and will often be open until the early evening. However, some cafes stay open much later – sometimes until the early hours of the morning. This is because many people feel the temptation to drink alcohol in the evenings – so instead of going to the pub, they have a safe, alcohol-free space to socialise.

Cafes for recovering alcoholics are usually open to anybody – whether it be friends, family, or general members of the community. If you’re nervous about going to a recovery cafe for the first time, why not bring your partner or a family member for support? If not, the people should be pretty welcoming. After all, they’ve all attended the cafe for the first time too, just like yourself.

The first ‘dry bar’/ recovery cafe in the UK – The Brink in Liverpool – offered a place for recovering alcoholics to socialise in a bar-like environment, without the alcohol. Before they closed in 2020, they offered live music, hot and cold snacks, smoothies, and non-alcoholic cocktails.

73% of their employees were actually in recovery themselves, offering those in crisis employment and stability, easing their recovery journey. This is the case for many recovery cafes – they don’t stigmatise potential employees regarding addiction, and actively hire people in recovery. Many also take on volunteers that are in recovery, giving them a further sense of purpose.

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How Recovery Cafes Can Help You

Quitting alcohol can be difficult, whether you have a severe dependence or a mild dependence. Whether you’re trying to quit drinking, you’ve recently completed a rehab program, or you’ve been sober for years, attending a local recovery café can help you through your recovery journey and keep you on the right path towards a sober future.

Simply popping into your local café when you feel the urge to drink alcohol can help to relieve the craving and stay on the right track – a quick chat with someone in a similar situation can make a huge difference. It can keep you occupied, and prevent you from spending time in your local pub or bar.

Read on to find out in more detail how recovery cafés can help you, from the warm and welcoming environment to the level of support.

Warm and Welcoming Environment

Recovery can be lonely, and socialising can be difficult for people recovering from addiction. When a person begins their sober journey, they are encouraged to assess their relationships. If you’ve recently stopped drinking, you may want to avoid the people you would previously drink with, as they may encourage you to relapse.

Your social life may have previously revolved around the pub or drinking – which is why it’s a good idea to expand your support network and gain peer support in a welcoming environment.

Reevaluating your relationships can be difficult, and you may feel lonely – and recovery cafes can ease these feelings of loneliness. It’s important to have a safe space where you can socialise in a non-stigmatising environment – a place where you won’t be encouraged to drink alcohol, or stigmatised for your addiction.

Instead of sitting in an intimidating community centre to talk about your problems, recovery cafes offer a welcoming environment and a lively atmosphere.

Improve Your Mental Health

Alcoholism and alcohol recovery can both affect your mental health, so it’s essential that you have a solid support network. Recovery cafes can introduce you to people in a similar situation as yourself, allowing you to expand your support network.

Some recovery cafés feature helpful guest speakers that will share their experiences with addiction and provide others with helpful coping mechanisms, giving you hope for the future.

You can also find cafés that offer counselling and additional mental health support – for example, The Brink in Liverpool had two counselling rooms open for those in recovery. Counselling is extremely beneficial for those in recovery – not only can it improve your mental health, but also give you a further understanding of yourself and your addiction (e.g root causes or addiction triggers).

Community Support

In the UK, many recovery cafes involve community support – helping those with other issues outside addiction. You may have heard of Cafe Hestia in London – it supports over 15,000 adults and children in crisis around London, providing support for those struggling with their mental health, or experiencing modern slavery or domestic abuse.

They also support those experiencing substance abuse issues, offering an open and non-judgemental environment to talk about their problems, whether it be regarding cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, or many more.

In the UK, not all recovery cafes are permanent fixtures – many recovery cafes begin as regular events. Some organisations will rent a cafe for a day or an evening, and invite those in recovery to socialise and network. Others will host recovery events in a cafe – whether it be including guest speakers, employment opportunities, or counselling sessions.

Whether you’ve detoxed at home, in a hospital, or in a rehab centre, it can be tough staying sober. Recovery cafes can provide you with ongoing support, preventing the chance of you relapsing. If you do happen to relapse, meeting with those in a similar situation can encourage you to get back on track.

Other Support for Addiction

Alcohol addiction can have numerous consequences, whether it be regarding your finances, relationships, career, or your mental and physical health. This is why it’s so important that you get help for your addiction.

For some people, simply receiving help and support through vices such as recovery cafes is enough. However, the more severe the addiction, the more help you’ll need. Alcohol rehab can be hugely beneficial to your recovery.

Contact our friendly team today to discuss your treatment options regarding rehab services. We’ll consider your addiction history, preferences, and requirements to find the right rehab treatment plan for you, at the right clinic.

Rehab begins with a detox. During a detox, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you are dependent on alcohol. You’ll have no access to alcohol during this stage to free your body of the substance.

After you have detoxed from alcohol, you may move on to the next stage of rehab – therapy. Addiction therapy can help you understand valuable coping mechanisms, and know your triggers and any root causes of your addiction.

You don’t have to break your dangerous drinking cycle alone – there is always support out there for you, whether it includes loved ones, medical professionals, or strangers that you meet at a recovery cafe

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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