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Should Alcoholics Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer?

It may seem like an obvious solution to recommend non-alcoholic beer to recovering alcoholics. After all, it means they get to drink beer but without the harmful effects of alcohol. However, things aren’t as straightforward as they may seem.

Drinking non-alcoholic beer won’t get you drunk, but it could cause a whole host of other problems for someone recovering from alcohol addiction.

Should Alcoholics Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer?

Alcoholics who are on the path to recovery should avoid non-alcoholic beer. The main reason for this is that non-alcoholic beer may cause cravings for the real thing, and even non-alcoholic beer often contains some alcohol.

There are plenty of sound arguments on the importance of non-alcoholic beer in the recovery community. However, the cons of non-alcoholic beer can outweigh the pros.

For alcoholics, it’s important to find new hobbies outside of the sphere of drinking culture. For some, they must avoid bars, clubs, drinking friends – anything that formally supported their alcoholic lifestyle.

For this reason, alcoholic should also avoid things that could trigger memories of their past lifestyle of heavy drinking, including drinks like non-alcoholic beer.

What Are the Dangers of Non-Alcoholic Beer for Recovering Alcoholics?

Unfortunately, as good an idea as offering a recovering alcoholic a non-alcoholic beer sounds, it could have severe consequences on the individual and undo some of the progress they’ve made so far in recovery.

For alcoholics, the dangers of non-alcoholic beer include:

The smell and taste may trigger cravings

The problem with some new non-alcoholic beers is that they taste really like the alcoholic beverage they are brewed to replicate. So, while the beer won’t get you drunk, it does create the sensory illusion that you’re drinking a real beer.

This is particularly dangerous for alcoholics, as the taste of beer alone could easily cause a relapse and trigger cravings for the real thing.

However, there are lots of other things that could trigger these cravings, such as being in a bar setting and being surrounded by people who are drinking. For some people, this could mean that they can safely consume non-alcoholic beers at home, as long as they avoid relapse-triggering settings such as a bar. It depends on the individual.

Non-alcoholic beer may still contain alcohol

The title ‘non-alcoholic beer’ is a bit misleading, as beers that contain up to 0.5% alcohol can be classed as non-alcoholic.

Although this is a minuscule amount of alcohol relative to standard beers – which normally have over 4% alcohol – it still means that a recovering alcoholic is coming into contact with alcohol when they drink supposedly ‘non-alcoholic’ beer.

It serves as a behavioural crutch

Relying on non-alcoholic beers suggests that the individual still needs to feel like they are drinking alcohol to be contented.

Even if their beer doesn’t contain any alcohol, they’re giving themselves a taste of the thing they know they need to avoid.

In this way, drinking NA beer becomes a behavioural crutch, which could negatively impact their ability to cope with an alcohol-free lifestyle.

Romanticising drinking is dangerous

Drinking non-alcoholic beer puts the beverage on a pedestal – it suggests that there’s nothing in the world you’d rather be drinking than beer, or at least something very similar to beer.

This idea could be dangerous for alcoholics, who would be better off filling the void for other alcohol-free options that are further removed from beer and alcoholic drinks.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, recommending a non-alcoholic beer to a recovering alcoholic is not a simple or straightforward decision.

While non-alcoholic beer might seem like a sensible choice, as it lacks the intoxicating effect of regular beer, the potential triggers it presents can outweigh its benefits.

The sensory illusion of consuming an alcoholic beverage, the risk of encountering small traces of alcohol, and the behavioural crutch it can serve as all make non-alcoholic beers potentially risky for recovering alcoholics.

While some might argue that non-alcoholic beers provide a form of inclusivity in social settings, for many recovering alcoholics, it is more beneficial to foster new hobbies outside the drinking culture and explore other alcohol-free options.

Rather than serving as a stepping stone towards sobriety, non-alcoholic beer could potentially act as a stumbling block on the road to recovery.