I’ve been completely sober for just over six months—not even Demi Lovato’s Cali sober—but stone-cold-not-even-a-joint-on-weekends sober. The decision came after a devastating series of losses in my personal life at the end of last summer. I have an addictive personality and struggle to find the fortitude to say “no” to pretty much anything. This decision, along with moving out of New York state, has made it difficult to connect with a lot of my old friends.
Also, St. Petersburg—the small seaside city where I grew up—has become gentrified. Trendy cafes, bars, and shops line the downtown area and rents have skyrocketed to boot. Thankfully, my parents bought their home in 1998 before it became cool to live here and I am staying with them temporarily until I get my life together enough to move out west.
In this town, it’s easy to find support from a sober community. I’m not talking about your uncle’s AA meetings where everyone awkwardly introduces themselves, shares their story on a dimly lit stage, then fumbles for coffee behind a sea of metal chairs. My generation and Gen Z take solace in the sober community surrounding Kava bars.
Kava and kratom are teas that give you a mildly mind-altering sensation without the chemical addiction or negative consequences associated with drugs and alcohol. They also won’t come up on any piss test used by your boss or probation officer. Though I should mention, as with any substance, moderation is key.
My first experience with a kava bar began at The Mad Hatter. I went in alone, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to talk to someone about my somewhat new-found sobriety. The night ended up being a bit awkward as everyone was already paired up and didn’t seem all that willing to chat with an eager newcomer.
Nevertheless, I remained undeterred. The following week, an ad on Facebook for “Ladies Night” at a 4th St. Kava House drew me in. I put on my best makeup and drove my trusty scooter to their second location. The owner, Nick, was incredibly welcoming. He didn’t scoff at me for being a newb. Instead, he explained all of the effects of each drink and when I decided on green with mango flavor, he happily poured it for me. The guests were also extremely warm and friendly. Best of all, most of us were in the same age range so I didn’t feel like an old weirdo at the ripe age of thirty.
I started attending events like karaoke at the Kava house regularly. Each time, I’ve been extremely grateful for the warmth, honesty, and kindness of the guests—all of whom I’ve enjoyed fantastic conversations with. It’s easier to stay sober when you’ve got support. I look forward to my weekly visits at 54th Ave. Kava House. If you ever find yourself in St. Pete, pay them a visit. You won’t be disappointed.