Kava Bars -- the New Trend in U.S. Social Life
The emergence of Kava Bars represents, in part, the divergence of the U.S. population into tribes. We are no longer a "One Style Fits All" society.
Maybe it's a longing to go back to a simpler time of shared values and small community living -- a way to experience that dream lifestyle of a tropical island in a sea of big city stress. Yes, that's a big part of it, but far from the whole story.
Maybe the Kava bar reflects our subconscious urge to insulate ourselves from the "crazies" who bring violence into once-sacrosanct places of peace and community. Random mass murders in public spaces -- theaters, schools, military bases -- have led many Americans to shun places where stressed-out people (often using prescription anxiety meds and antidepressants) may congregate.
Another part of the appeal is the desire for herbal, rather than pharmaceutical relief for modern stress, around which a new vision of community may be built. Herbs -- unlike fermented barley and hops, which can release stress in disturbing displays of argument and violence -- have a much longer tradition of human use as anxiety remedies.
Kava and Kratom are the "new" mood-enhancers -- relatively new to U.S. shores, but ancient in their use in more relaxed and cooperative cultures.
The Kava Bar culture Reflects A Return to Ancient Traditions in a Fast-Changing World
On the mainland U.S., no place comes so close to the ambience of island life as South Florida, which -- not coincidentally -- is a hotbed of the Kava bar lifestyle.
Make No Mistake, You Are No Longer in Margaritaville
When you enter Jimmy Scianno's haven of peace and chill on South Beach, you know you've entered a different vibe from the frenetic SoBe superficial glamour and ostentatious wealth outside. And that is exactly what makes his Kava bar so attractive.
This is a place to chill out, let down your hair, and get your vibe on. Is your day getting you down? Have some Kava, maybe with a scoop of Kratom, for a powerful one-two punch to relax and rejuvenate you. In minutes, you'll be having an interesting conversation with someone you've just met, or perhaps with another "regular" if this is a place you visit frequently.
For many patrons, the Kava bar, wherever it is located, is a place they like to hang out because it is NOT Margaritaville. It is not loud and boisterous. There is no alcohol served here -- and that's a plus in many patrons' eyes. This is another feature that drives the growth of Kava bar ambience, as it spreads across the USA. Many of us no longer want intoxication as a necessary ingredient of our social life.
Kava bars are for those who have found the alcohol-fueled American society doesn't work for them. They don't want to be around it, much less be a part of it.
Others who come here want a divorce from America's shotgun marriage with narcotics. Florida was a capital of the pill-mill era in recent American history. Now, the Sunshine State has become a center of the drug recovery industry. There are many "in recovery" using Kratom and Kava to facilitate their return to sobriety (and rehab centers and clinics are very jealous when they find their clients are double-timing them).
"Shotgun marriage?" you ask? Sure, when in the late 90s you went to see the doctor about a sore lower back or fibromyalgia, you often came out with a prescription for OxyContin, then being sold as a more effective, less addictive pain reliever. That was the choice that doctors were making for the public. After a few months or a few years of regular use, many found it was very difficult to quit. They also found it was interfering with their job, their marriage, their driving, and their life, in general. Many went so far as to "wake up dead", though accidental overdose.
Ooooops, So Sorry! said Big Pharma (They blamed the dead for abusing the drug or not taking as directed -- but the dead couldn't argue.)
Nevetheless, Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, reluctantly paid $634.5 million in fines for fraudulently misbranding this product.
Once these people, old and young, got free of the monkey on their back, the last thing they wanted was to be among those still enthralled with the narcotic lifestyle. They had been there, done that, and were done with it.
What many of the general public don't realize is how sincerely addicts want sobriety. Studies have shown that most of the current population of opiate addicts started with a doctor's prescription of a powerful opioid for some pain for which the medical profession had little else to offer. Once the become addicted, due to the declining effectiveness of the drug, they may desire to be free but they fear the barrier of withdrawal which stops many from trying to quit.
For many, Kratom had been the magical key that turned off the withdrawal misery -- making it possible to quit prescription narcotics without the feared and traumatic discomforts. Once past withdrawal, Kratom continued to dissolve the residual pain and depression of PAWS (Post-Acute-Withdrawal-Syndrome). Kratom brightens moods, eases social anxiety, and energizes -- it does many of the good things that alcohol clumsily does. And it does them without fear of overdose, drunkenness, blackouts, and hangover.
From a bar owner's perspective, Kratom and Kava must seem like a dream team to base a business on.
Your patrons don't pass out, get in fights or loud arguments, and they don't vomit in the parking lot. They just enjoy themselves and each other's company. What a concept!
Not to start any rumors, but guys should take a look at the study linked below which showed that women using Kava exhibited an enhanced sex drive, due to reduction of anxiety. This is more good advertising for this growing social phenomenon.
Kava bar owner James Scianno says the Miami Beach police love him and have caused him no trouble at all, despite the bad reputation the TV news reports have tried to pin on the new herbs in town.
Kava has more history behind it in the U.S. than Kratom -- and quite a lot of science proving its capacity for easing anxiety, relieving stress, and lubricating social interaction.
Kava (sometimes called "Kava Kava") got off to a rocky start in Europe, where reports of liver damage appeared soon after Kava was made available to the public there. It has since been found that the damage was caused by a supply that was not harvested in the traditional way -- which uses only the roots and not the leaves. That mistake has since been corrected by knowledgeable and ethical harvesters.
Others who suffered liver damage in the European episode were found to be using alcohol and other liver-toxic drugs in combination with the Kava, which is not advised.
Most of the few complaints about Kava bars come from the drug rehab clinics, which view Kava and Kratom as competition for their services (which need all the help they can get). The truth is, if looked at on the basis of their results, those who quit drugs or alcohol with the help of Kava and Kratom are much more successful at making this big change permanent than those who are forced to rely on ineffective 12-Step or conventional programs based on switching to even more addictive drugs, such as suboxone or methadone.
Kava Bars Also Proliferating in Appalachia
The South Seas atmosphere and conviviality are easy to reproduce in South Florida; not so much in North Carolina, but that's where they find a second home, following the long-established migration pattern of Floridians seeking a cool, mountain respite from the brutal heat of South Florida summer.
There was also a pattern developed during the pill-mill era where big profits were made by those who acquired prescription narcotics in Florida pharmacies and delivered them to the Appalachian states where jobs were hard to find and addiction was everywhere. This may account for some of the eager acceptance of kava bars far from the warm shores of Florida, but certainly not all of it.
In a college town like Carrboro, North Carolina, Krave Kava is thriving as a friendly place to study, meet friends, and socialize for a wide slice of the local residents and tourists. Local police come in for a kava on their day off duty, enjoying the welcoming atmosphere and the lack of animosity among patrons and themselves.
Kava bars have found a niche in U.S. society that wasn't being served -- both as a place and as a human need for better methods of relieving stress in an often anxiety-producing world.
U.S. society is changing whether we like it or not. The pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, now moving away from individualistic, materialistic, and superficial glamour back to the friendly, peaceable, community of those who commune with plant spirits rather than intoxicants.
Let's hope Kava bars reflect a long-term trend for U.S. society.