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Dangers of Non Alcoholic Beer

Is Non-Alcoholic Beer Safe for Recovering Addicts

What are the Dangers of Non Alcoholic Beer?

Non-alcoholic beer, sometimes called “near beers” is a brewed beverage modeled after flavorful craft beers. It smells, looks, and tastes like real beer, but only contains trace amounts of alcoholic substance, allowing those who are not looking to get drunk to enjoy the taste of beer and get the experience of having drinks with friends or at a party while reducing their alcohol intake, reducing calories, avoiding hangovers, and helping remove the risk of developing chronic diseases related to alcoholism like liver cirrhosis and wet brain.

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Beer is created by fermenting grains, and in the past, non-alcoholic beer was made by either preventing the fermentation or adding sugar, then cooking off the alcohol or filtering it out. These created a flavorless or overly sweet taste. Today, your average non-alcoholic beverage has been made using top-secret high-tech methods that make it nearly indistinguishable from regular brand-name beverages.

Non-alcoholic beer is not 100% without alcohol. This is because some alcohol naturally forms as part of the brewing process. Beers with up to 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) can be labeled as non-alcoholic, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is a small amount, and even if you have a few you will likely not get buzzed. There are actually several different types of “non-alcoholic” beer on the market. These include:

  • Alcohol-free beer with a maximum of 0.05% ABV
  • De-alcoholized beer with a maximum of 0.5% ABV
  • Low-alcohol beer with a maximum of 1.2% ABV

In contrast, an alcoholic beer contains 1.2% ABV or higher.

Whether a person does not drink alcohol for religious, cultural, or personal reasons, or if they are trying to cut back on their alcohol consumption or quit drinking altogether, non-alcoholic beer is an option that may work for some.

Dangers of Non Alcoholic Beer for Recovering Alcoholics

You may be wondering non-alcoholic beer safe for recovering alcoholics? Although the labels and the marketing for non-alcoholic beers try to portray them as a “healthy” choice, made with wellness in mind, non-alcoholic beers may not be a good choice for those in recovery. Even with only trace amounts of alcohol and a complete nutritional label on the bottle, drinking NA beer is not safer and healthier, it can still easily lead you down a slippery slope if you have an alcohol use disorder.

Substance use disorders do not discriminate. If you begin to activate old habits, thoughts, and patterns when it comes to drinking, even if you only drink non-alcoholic drinks, your brain and body may begin to fall back into addiction, causing you to act more compulsively and crave alcohol making this one of the Dangers of Non Alcoholic Beer

When alcoholics drink non-alcoholic beer, it acts as a behavioral crutch. When in recovery, you should be moving towards creating new habits, meeting new friends, going to new places, and doing new activities. If you go to the same old bar with the same friends and order a near beer, you are placing yourself in harm’s way, inviting cravings and urges to trigger you into drinking again.

There have also been studies that have shown that up to 30% of non-alcoholic labeled beers actually exceed the 0.5% alcohol contents by volume limit, some reaching up to 1.8% ABV, mislabeled as alcohol-free. If you drank an excessive amount of these beers, you may be able to achieve a buzz, so it is important to note that chugging several non-alcoholic beers is not a safe habit to cultivate as a person in recovery.

The sensory experience that occurs when you experience the taste of beer or even the smell of beer may trigger cravings, making staying sober more difficult, acting as a trigger for cravings and causing you to feel frustrated, or create a feeling of “euphoric recall”, an issue in recovery in which the addicted person glamorizes drinking by ignoring the negative effects drinking had on them and glamorizing the positives.

Dangers of Non Alcoholic Beer

Is It Safe to Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer in Recovery?

Everybody is different, and while drinking beer may help some people get through a social situation by drinking around as they begin recovery, many more find it triggering to try non-alcoholic beer in recovery. Overall, it is not recommended that those in recovery drink non-alcoholic beer. It is better to switch to other non-triggering non-alcoholic beverages like water, soda, or juice. You may want to change your social activities, remove yourself from old drinking buddies, and stay away from places where people drink.

Addiction recovery is something that needs to be taken one day at a time, and spending your days reliving the old times, even if you are technically abstaining from alcohol, will prevent you from moving forward in your life and creating new healthy goals, habits, and social connections. It is best to avoid non-alcoholic beers and head down a different path instead.

Alcohol Cravings During Early Recovery

It can be very difficult to deal with alcohol cravings, especially when you are in early recovery. Alcohol addiction is a serious brain condition that never truly goes away. It can be managed and becomes easier over time, but people in recovery always need to stay vigilant against triggers and cravings, likely for the rest of their lives, because alcohol is everywhere in the United States, on nearly every restaurant menu, in the local corner store, at your friend’s house and in every bar and pub you pass by. It is also socially acceptable to drink, so surrounding yourself completely with non-drinkers may be near impossible.

When you first leave your rehabilitation program, you may still have recurring post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), with strong cravings, along with anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, panic, obsessive thoughts, and irritability. This can last up to two years in some people in recovery from alcohol addiction, with cravings periodically recurring spontaneously and also when you are faced with emotional or social triggers for the rest of your life.

How To Avoid Relapse After Rehab

Relapse prevention skills, continuing care through your recovery program, and groups like 12-step programs (Alcoholics Anonymous) can help keep you on track when you feel triggered or if an alcohol craving hits you. You may feel distressed or disoriented, so contacting somebody in your recovery community who knows what you are going through may be immensely helpful. Knowing what to do and where to go before it happens is important and following through on your relapse prevention plan is key to staying sober.

It is also useful to know what relapse looks like, including the stages of relapse. It begins with emotional relapse, feeling negatively toward yourself and the world, and not taking care of yourself as well as you used to. The next phase is mental relapse, in which you start thinking about drinking again and glamourizing it to yourself. You may tell yourself you can just have one drink and it will be ok. The final stage is physical relapse, in which you begin to actively drink again, falling into old habits.

You may want to seek help or begin taking the steps on your relapse prevention plan if you are:

  • Isolating yourself from loved ones and avoiding groups or therapy
  • Romanticizing the past and bargaining with yourself because “this time will be different”
  • Experiencing alcohol cravings
  • Not practicing self-care, falling into poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Allowing yourself to break your own self-imposed rules

What To Do if You Relapse

Most recovering alcoholics will relapse at least once, with others relapsing many times, before being able to stay in long-term recovery from alcohol abuse. If you slip up and have a drink, or just spend one-day drinking alcohol and are able to stop again, it may be beneficial to check in with your recovery community or even an addiction treatment center for extra support. You may want to join one of the many outpatient programs available for alcohol addiction treatment, especially if you have begun drinking compulsively again and are back into your old alcohol addiction habits.

Alcohol Rehab at Resurgence Behavioral Health

Resurgence offers a continuum of care that can meet you where you are with your alcohol addiction. If you have experienced a relapse and wish to detox and move into an intensive outpatient program, working during the day and attending therapy in the evenings, we can do that, and if you don’t think you can make it through the day without drinking alcohol, it may be beneficial to move into our recovery center for a full-time inpatient rehab program complete with sober living facilities, taking away that temptation for a while. 

Our treatment programs incorporate a holistic approach, from medical detox through residential treatment, outpatient rehab, and our alumni program. We customize your care with treatments that include individual counseling, group therapy, dual diagnosis, and a family program to heal damaged relationships with your loved ones and build your support network. Recovering addicts are offered a place in our extended care program after outpatient treatments are over, so you will never be alone again in your recovery.

Contact our team today to find out more about our substance abuse treatment programs and how you can get the help you need today, whether you have been to rehab before or not. We can make a difference and get you the care you need to move forward in life without alcohol.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Alexa Iocco

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