Since Beth Mairs confronted her drinking problem and stopped consuming alcohol cold turkey more than four years ago, she's seen her quality of life improve tremendously.
“It's made a huge impact in my life and in my health, and in my ability to pursue my goals, and to basically be a better person,” she said. “I'm really grateful to to have basically broken up with alcohol.”
One thing that she's found lacking in Greater Sudbury, though, are opportunities to meet up with others interested in having substance-use free fun.
“There's an irony,” Mairs said. “You have a lot more energy, you have a lot more time on your hands, and you have a lot more money.
“But you may not have a social group, and particularly for those of us who don't make use of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) as a mechanism in recovery, it's harder to find your people.”
Mairs — the managing director of Sudbury Indie Cinema, who also ran for the NDP in Sudbury in last fall's federal election — said when she sees a gap, she often organizes what she'd like to see in her community.
So that's the idea behind Sober Sudbury, a new group founded by Mairs as a way for folks embracing a sober lifestyle to have some fun and socialize.
She's launching the group Jan. 25 with an event at Sudbury Indie Cinema called Juiced Up January. It's a booze and intoxicant-free dance with music by DJ Groovy Betty. The event starts at 9 p.m., and costs $10 at the door.
Mairs said she definitely didn't invent the idea of sober events herself. “Sober meet-ups are definitely a thing, and if you start to do some investigation, you'll find them in large cities especially,” she said.
January is a significant time of the year for sobriety, as many people take part in “Dry January,” abstaining from alcohol for a month, to benefit their health and take a good, hard look at their relationship with alcohol.
While this month's event is a dance, Mairs said future events could really be anything from a hike to taking in a cultural activities to planning a group trip to another community.
She said she's hoping the group's other members will step up to help her plan future Sober Sudbury events.
And Mairs said you don't have to be a recovering addict to take part.
You may just prefer having fun without being around those consuming alcohol or other substances, or you may be what Mairs describes as “sober curious" — considering sobriety.
Anyone who's not under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the event (Mairs suggests for at least 24 hours) is welcome to join in.