Those in alcohol recovery often feel left out of social situations where drinking is the norm, such as gathering with friends, sports events, and even family holidays. Many individuals in treatment turn to “near beer,” or non-alcoholic beer, as a way to participate in activities without actually consuming alcohol.
But can you get addicted to non-alcoholic beer, and is it a gateway to relapse?
What is Non-Alcoholic Beer?
Non-alcoholic beer typically contains a very low alcohol content (less than 0.5% alcohol by volume), which is why it is often called “near beer” or “low alcohol beer.” While non-alcoholic beer isn’t completely empty of alcohol content, the amount is negligible.
Alcoholic beer is typically made either by using traditional brewing methods followed by vacuum distillation or reverse osmosis to remove the alcohol or by modifying the fermentation process so that the amount of alcohol in the final product is minimal.
But, even a small amount of alcohol can trigger those in recovery to justify having a stronger drink or even result in an addiction to non-alcoholic beer itself.
Can You Get Addicted to Non-Alcoholic Beer?
Although it isn’t likely that someone consuming a “near beer” will feel any effects of alcohol, it is possible for some individuals to develop a psychological addiction or to develop a habit of consuming non-alcoholic beer.
The addictive potential of non-alcoholic beer is more the psychological aspects, such as the routine, taste, or context associated with drinking, rather than the alcohol itself.
For those who have struggled with alcohol addiction in the past, drinking non-alcoholic beer might trigger cravings or lead to a relapse if it reactivates old behavioral patterns.
Can Alcoholics Drink NA Beer?
Individuals in alcohol recovery should be cautious and consult with their healthcare provider, therapist, or addiction specialist before consuming non-alcoholic beer or any other products that may resemble alcoholic beverages.
Everyone’s circumstances and recovery journey are unique. One person may be able to enjoy “near beer” socially without feeling triggered to drink. However, others may feel this indicates that they are fully recovered and may start consuming beverages with higher alcohol content.
For someone with Alcohol Use Disorder, recovery is lifelong, and individuals must re-commit to sobriety daily. Often, non-alcoholic beers or “mocktails” can seem harmless but lead to relapse.
Whether or not you are someone who can consume NA beer without risk of relapse, it is a good idea to wait until you are confident in your recovery before you try it–and speak to your care team first.
Alternatives to Non-Alcoholic Beer While in Alcohol Recovery
There are several alternatives to non-alcoholic beer that are a lower trigger risk. Some alternatives include seltzer water or other sparkling water, caffeinated beverages like sodas or coffee, or fresh-squeezed juice.
You can commonly find these alternatives at gatherings and even bars, and they can be an alcohol-free option for social events.
Concerns With Alcohol or Other Substances? Begin Healing Today.
Alcohol use is pervasive, with an average of 63% of US adults reporting regular alcohol consumption. It can feel nearly impossible to avoid alcohol, and just because someone is in recovery doesn’t mean they want to abstain from social activities.
However, alcohol use can be problematic, and those in recovery can develop a psychological dependence on non-alcoholic beer.
If you or a loved one are struggling with problematic drinking, whether it’s “near beer” or beverages with a higher alcohol content, help is available.
Call and speak with a member of our team today and learn more about your options for alcohol recovery.