Alcohol and addiction can lead to deadly consequences, and staying away is not always easy. For those in recovery, temptations are lurking just about everywhere.
Matthew Wanat is an associate professor of neuroscience, developmental and regenerative biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He said sobriety is not easy for everyone.
“There isn’t some sort of a silver bullet if you want to think about that approach as for treating substance use disorders. Unfortunately, taking an abused substance can do, that can rewire your brain in a way so that you will be more likely to seek out the drugs, or the cues you’ve associated with the drugs have more salience have more importance to you and there is no sort of magic switch that you can sort of turn it off,” he said.
Other studies show alcohol abuse can open a door to other dangerous substances, which is why some medical experts call alcohol a “gateway drug.”
“One of the biggest challenges in substance use disorder is for individuals to remain abstinent from taking the drugs of abuse,” Wanat said.
However, help can be found in the least likely of places, bars. HASH Vegan Eatery opened its doors almost three years ago, and it’s a place that serves up vegan comfort food, non-alcoholic drinks and support for people recovering from addiction.
Owners Rogelio and Michael Sanchez said it’s the only complete sober bar in San Antonio.
“The ‘why’ to open was bigger than just opening up a restaurant, it was to address these things. To give people a place to come and feel safe, feel seen and feel a place where there are no triggers,” Rogelio said.
Rogelio and Michael have been sober for almost 10 years, and they opened their business as a way to support others in recovery. Their goal is to not just be in the community but a part of it. They have partnered with local food pantries, help feed people in homeless communities and they also host recovery meetings.
The brothers have been shaking things up on the city’s south side and shattering stigma surrounding addiction.
“I know just on observation from living in this community our whole life, we know the substance abuse issue, the domestic violence issue, the systemic cultural things that have been either brushed under the rug, ignored for years, or just not talked about,” Michael said.
Their mother passed away from cirrhosis of the liver, which stemmed from alcoholism. However, the brothers believe her legacy to help others lives on in their work.
“In doing that we have seen some beautiful transformations,” Rogelio said.
Despite personal challenges, the Sanchez brothers said they are motivated to make a difference.
“I don’t care what the word had set up for us, you know what I mean? We’re here to change the world,” said Rogelio.
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