Dangers of Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer While in Recovery

Dangers of Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer While in Recovery

Someone who enters recovery from addiction to alcohol may contemplate if sobriety and non-alcoholic beer go together. While it might feel like a good idea to pop open a non-alcoholic beer when a person is relaxing or celebrating an event, doing so can be troublesome because recovery relies on avoiding potential triggers. 

Non-Alcoholic Beer Isn’t Alcohol-Free

Despite the name, non-alcoholic beer does contain trace amounts of alcohol. Regular beer contains about 5% alcohol. Because many non-alcoholic beer brands have less than 1% – often around 0.5% – they are allowed to label themselves as alcohol-free. While a person is unlikely to achieve a feeling of inebriation with an amount that low, if they already struggle with alcoholism they may be tempted to push their luck. 

Sobriety and Non-Alcoholic Beer Serve Up a Too Real Product

Manufacturers of non-alcoholic beer did a good job in mimicking many characteristics of regular beer, including packaging it in bottles and cans. They also create a product that smells, looks, and tastes very much like real beer. While this proves beneficial for a consumer only looking for a decent substitute for an alcoholic drink, it can trigger someone in recovery from alcohol addiction. 

An individual who thinks sobriety and non-alcoholic beer make a good match may find the initial serving or two to feel like a way to cheat and enjoy a beer without any dire consequences. Many go on to find that the sight and aroma of a foamy beer, coupled with the similar taste, cause a desire to have a real beer to surface. Memories of good times and getting drunk are powerful stimuli that can trigger a relapse, making sobriety and non-alcoholic beer a potentially toxic combination. 

Is Sobriety and Non-Alcoholic Beer Just a Crutch?

One of the fundamentals of recovery from alcohol use disorder revolves around eliminating the need to have a drink in a person’s hand. “Near beer”, as many refer to it, goes against that principle, feeding into the idea that it can serve as a crutch. It might be that someone in recovery doesn’t feel comfortable yet attending a social event or sitting around watching sports at home without the feeling of a drink in their hand. 

Many who rely on non-alcoholic beer do so because they don’t want to be perceived as unable or unwilling to consume alcohol. For them, the beer substitute serves as a crutch of sorts, which keeps them from fully embracing the ability to enjoy themselves anywhere with a non-alcoholic drink or no drink at all. Recovery from alcohol use disorder should be about becoming comfortable without alcohol involved in any part of a person’s daily life. 

Dopamine Levels Affected by Combining Sobriety and Non-Alcoholic Beer

Drinking alcoholic beverages and even the anticipation of drinking one can raise dopamine levels, a chemical in the brain related to experiencing pleasure and happiness. Part of getting sober involves retraining the brain not to rely on alcohol or drugs to provide higher dopamine levels. Because the brain naturally takes care of this function when no alcohol is present, a person trying to combine sobriety and non-alcoholic beer is putting stumbling blocks in the way of this process. 

Common Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

An individual who suffers from addiction to alcohol will exhibit certain signs that indicate they are in trouble. Common symptoms of alcohol addiction include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Impaired memory
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Smelling of alcohol
  • Regularly experiencing hangovers
  • Hiding alcohol and proof of purchasing it
  • Spending inordinate amounts of money to procure alcohol
  • Unable to cut back on drinking or quit drinking
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Personal and work-life suffering due to alcohol consumption
  • Being arrested for alcohol-related offenses, including DUI/DWI or public intoxication

How to Embrace Sobriety and Leave Non-Alcoholic Beer Behind

A person who entered recovery but found that behaviors such as drinking non-alcoholic beer contributed to relapse should seek treatment again quickly. The faster the individual faces their problem and gets help, the more likely they are to stick with a sober life after receiving treatment again. 

A 2019 report by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) stated that 14.5 million individuals ages 12 and older have an addiction to alcohol. Adolescents ages 12 to 17 account for 414,000 alcohol use disorder cases. The same report showed that of those with alcohol use disorder ages 12 and over, only about 7% received any treatment for it in the previous year. Individuals who seek help from a primary care physician much more commonly ask for assistance with a medical problem related to alcohol instead of specifically asking for addiction treatment.

Treatment programs that help people recover from alcohol and drug addiction can assess a person’s entire physical and emotional wellbeing. These programs address addiction, accompanying mental health issues, and help remove the need for crutches like non-alcoholic beer. 

Alcoholism Treatment in Phoenix

Living with addiction to alcohol is no way to live at all. At Continuum Recovery Center, we offer alcoholism treatment in our scenic Phoenix location. Our program includes embracing holistic treatment so the entire person’s body, mind, and spirit experience healing.  

If you or a loved one are ready to reach out for help, we are here to show you the way to recover. Contact us today and get started.