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'Sober bars' are becoming increasingly popular

Sometimes it seems like alcohol is available just about everywhere -- from hair salons to dentists' offices and beyond. Unfortunately, in low-income areas, it can often be easier to find a liquor store than a grocery store.

However, there's also a distinctly contradictory trend emerging in this country -- alcohol-free social gathering spots. There are even "sober bars" where people can get together with friends to visit or watch a game without alcohol. Some concerts and other events have substance-free zones designated with yellow balloons.

People in recovery welcome these sober spots because they help them avoid the temptation and peer pressure that are inescapable in regular bars and many social gathering spots. However, they give everyone the opportunity to make healthier choices for themselves.

Despite mounting evidence of the dangers of alcohol, almost 67 million people binge drink at least once a month, according to a survey by the federal government. That's four drinks within a short period for women and five for men.

Alcohol can permanently damage major organs and contribute to a variety of cancers. It plays a role in almost half of all murders. Of course, it leads to car crashes. In 2016, nearly a quarter of all fatal car crashes in Georgia involved a driver over the legal limit.

You can even find alcohol-free bars (or at least bars with alcohol-free nights) in cities known for their beer, like St. Louis, Missouri. One bar owner says, "The nonalcoholic beverage movement is a growing group. I'm making a decision to choose this and I'm proud of it." In one college town in South Carolina, an addiction treatment center even hosts alcohol-free events for area students.

Whether you're a recovering alcoholic, "sober curious," or you'd rather forego the calories in a few shots of tequila and enjoy extra chips instead, it's easier than ever to find alcohol-free venues -- or at least ones that offer alcohol-free alternatives besides soda and iced tea.

Of course, opting for an alcohol-free evening can also help you ensure that you get home safely and without spending the night in jail. Even a first DUI in Georgia can have serious and long-term consequences. If you're facing DUI charges, it's wise to seek legal guidance rather than deal with the justice system alone.