In the past couple of years, the trend across many big companies to create non-alcoholic drinks, or “zero” alcohol beer has skyrocketed.
Companies such as Heineken, Coopers or Carlton have jumped on the bandwagon, and this is a great thing for people in recovery who can still enjoy the taste of beer, and remain sober.
I personally, though, never drank alcohol for the taste, no; I drank it to get drunk as fast as humanly possible.
I was known as a blackout drinker, and I talk a bit about this in my article on neurotransmitters.
In this article, I want to discuss a little bit about Non-alcoholic drinks, are they really non-alcoholic? Can this cause us to have cravings and relapse?
Let’s dive in.
One of the most common and upward trending areas of Non-Alcoholic Drinks is the rise of Alcohol-free Beer and Wine.
Although these beverages aren’t technically Alcohol-free, they contain a minuscule amount at approximately 0.05% per bottle, which is practically nothing.
As mentioned in the introduction, big brands have started bringing out their alcohol-free alternative, and it’s allowed for individuals in recovery to still enjoy that hopsy flavour.
Of course, when it comes to these types of beverages, you must ask why you’re drinking them, are you doing it to fit in? Re-visit old memories?
Fermented Beverages (Kefir and Kombucha)
Kombucha is another drink that has taken the world by storm, and Kefir is not too far behind.
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage and is made by combining a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) with sugar and tea. This combination results in the production of acetic acid, trace amounts of alcohol, and a host of bacteria that are beneficial for our gut.
This delicious beverage supports our gut function, and most importantly, our gut bacteria diversity, which influences our mood, digestion, immune function, and most importantly, our serotonin production.
In fact, 80% of our serotonin is created in our gut, and this neurotransmitter is super important – learn more of its functions in this article.
Studies may actually suggest that the state of our gut microbiome could contribute to the progression or relapse of alcohol abuse (Mutlu et al., 2012), cool right?
Of course, like beer, there are trace amounts of alcohol (<0.5%), but the benefits of Kombucha seem to outweigh this tiny amount.
If you want something that contains even less, you could try Water Kefir. It provides similar benefits, and is a more lactic acid-based ferment, containing less alcohol if produced correctly.
Lastly, we have Mocktails, which are basically cocktails, without the booze.
Besides the extreme sugary-ness of these beverages, which isn’t good in excess, they’re a fantastic non-alcoholic drink that quite frankly, tastes amazing.
This will often be something I choose on those special occasions, and it seems like more restaurants I go to are offering more of these options.
Of course, as I mentioned, these beverages are usually high in sugar, and excessive intake can impact our neurochemistry, which can result in mood changes and behaviour (Avena et al., 2008).
The keywords here are “excessive intake”, and are why I tend to only limit this beverage to special occasions.
Can Non-Alcoholic Drinks Cause Us to Relapse?
After all these different Non-Alcoholic Drinks, we ask the really big question, can indulging in these Alcohol-free drinks increase our risk of relapse?
Personally, I think it depends on a few factors, including how long you’ve been sober, the environment you drink it in, and honestly, your own mindset.
In short, substance triggers can trigger cravings from old memories, and could technically increase our risk of relapse.
Tip: If you ever experience cravings, you can use this simple and affordable nutritional supplement to crush your cravings.
Of course, if you can’t stop drinking Non-Alcoholic drinks, and feel like you need them, this could be an early warning sign to give them a miss.
My verdict: Non-Alcoholic drinks are okay, and are honestly a fantastic opportunity to get out and be social and connected, assuming we select our beverage of choice wisely.
Heck, it could even just be sparkling water, that’s a Non-alcoholic beverage, right?
In this day and age, there are more options than ever for recovering alcoholics to enjoy a beverage and remain social in an alcohol-driven world.
Of course, we can’t do this in a careless manner, and remember the impact of substance triggers, select our beverage carefully, and do it in moderation.
Although these drinks are great, we again can’t rely on them as we did with booze, and hey, water should generally, in most cases, take priority.
If you have any questions regarding this article, reach out.
- Avena, N. M., Rada, P., & Hoebel, B. G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32(1), 20-39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019
- Mutlu, E. A., Gillevet, P. M., Rangwala, H., Sikaroodi, M., Naqvi, A., Engen, P. A., Kwasny, M., Lau, C. K., & Keshavarzian, A. (2012). Colonic microbiome is altered in alcoholism. American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 302(9), G966-G978. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00380.2011
Former drinker, Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and better understand the nature of addiction. His goal is to help people take control of their addiction, reset their cravings, unscramble their broken brain circuitry and use actionable strategies that work ten times better than anything else.