Non-alcoholic beers could spell disaster for recovering alcoholics

Non-alcoholic drinks are great for anyone looking to cut down this January, but they're not a long term solution.

43w ago

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Six months ago, Verywell released a medically approved article that warned that non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits could spell disaster for people planning to stay sober, especially recovering alcoholics.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, although called ‘non-alcoholic’, these drinks do normally contain around 0.5% alcohol. This minute percentage might seem negligible, but in fact it could trigger some alcoholics to fall back into their old ways.

Secondly, and more importantly, these drinks might stop the consumers getting drunk, but they do not cause the necessary lifestyle changes that alcoholics or anyone looking to remove alcohol from their lives need to successfully give up.

Giving up anything, from alcohol, to chocolate, to your ex, is so much easier when the forbidden object is out of sight and out of mind. With alcohol free drinks, the opposite is the case; you breathe in the familiar fumes; you taste (almost) the same delicious flavours, and perhaps most importantly, you can remain in the same company in the same places.

As Verywell neatly puts it, “Sitting around drinking near beer with the same people in the same places you used to drink, is maintaining your old lifestyle, not developing a new one.”

No place for a recovering alcoholic

No place for a recovering alcoholic

Studies have suggested that 90% of alcoholics relapse within four years of going sober; quitting something that has become so central to a person’s life is extremely hard, but a clean break is the best option.

The best way to maintain sobriety is not to abstain from alcohol through non-alcoholic alternatives, but to develop an alcohol-free lifestyle, in which healthy activities replace the unhealthy ones. Simply ordering a Becks Blue is not going to help if you are attempting a lifetime of sobriety.

A long-time support group member was interviewed by Verywell. He commented: “I tell people to avoid the so-called non-alcoholic beer like the plague”.

“It’s like playing with fire: sooner or later you’re going to get burned. There is a saying, ‘if you hang around the barber shop long enough, sooner or later you are going to get a haircut.’ The same is true for near beer.”

Given this data, should we be celebrating as alcohol-free alternatives rack up in our supermarkets and coarse through the pipes in our pubs? The rise of non-alcoholic beers might mark our society’s newfound interest in health and wellbeing, but it might also bring vulnerable people back into dangerous habits.

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