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Want to stop or cut down on drinking? Sober City wants to help

Lee-Anne Richardson knows how isolating it can feel to be the person not drinking at a social gathering
(stock photo)

New guidance from Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) may have some Haligonians thinking about how much alcohol they consume.

It released a report earlier this week suggesting a person should consume no more than two drinks a week in order to mitigate health risks. The recommendation is down from a previously advised two drinks a day.

For those considering of eliminating alcohol from their life, or even cutting back, a local organization is here to help.

Lee-Anne Richardson has been sober for almost nine years and knows how isolating it can feel to be the person not drinking at a social gathering.

"When we go out and socialize, most of our peers are drinking," she explained. "So pressures can be felt especially when someone quits drinking."

"It can feel very awkward, it can feel honestly sad sometimes when sober people go out with friends because they're no longer partaking and they can feel left out."

Richardson wanted to change that, so three years ago she founded Sober City, a peer-support group with the aim of enjoying life without alcohol.

"To connect people, provide sober activities for people who either don't drink altogether, or who want to cut back, or who just want to live periodically without alcohol and still have fun," she told CityNews Halifax last week.

Sober City offers information, support and resources, and also hosts regular hangouts, both online and in person. 

"When I got sober in Nova Scotia I felt like .... I needed a new friend circle," she added. "So I decided I needed to build something."

She felt the opportunity to connect and socialize with other non-drinkers was important, especially here in Halifax, a city that has a reputation for being a party town. 

"Alcohol seems to be incorporated into every activity we do here," Richardson said, but she believes that's starting to slowly change.

Not long ago, options for non-drinkers at local bars and restaurants were basically just limited to pop, juice or water, but now more and more businesses are offering up alternatives, including non-alcoholic beer, wine, ciders, spirits and mocktails.

She has compiled a list on her website, along with a directory of establishments offering these products, but cautions they might not be for everyone because they could be triggering.

"We're slowly starting to de-stigmatize and it is showing that not drinking doesn't mean we're boring," she stated. "We can still have fun."

Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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