Will Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer Cause a Relapse?

For those who have successfully kicked their alcohol addiction, the mere notion of non-alcoholic beer might raise an eyebrow. Akin in some ways to the rise of e-cigarettes in recent years, non-alcoholic beer extends a hand out to those who are over alcohol but not necessarily opposed to beer. In theory, anyway. There is a justifiable concern from many that non-alcoholic beer can lead back to alcoholism and cause a total relapse.

For those who are currently struggling with alcohol, or even concerned about a potential relapse in the future, The Right Step offers specialized alcohol addiction treatment. At our alcohol rehab center, you can safely allow alcohol to exit your system and learn new skills and habits that can slim the odds of a relapse. Contact us today at 17135283709 to learn how we operate and why we’re the best choice for you.

The Argument Against Non-Alcoholic Beer and Relapse

Non-alcoholic beer sounds almost too good to be true, as well as a little counterintuitive. You’re telling me there’s a beer with all of the positives of a pleasant buzz with none of the addictive properties of alcohol? Well, keep your excitement to a minimum, and let’s establish exactly what non-alcoholic beer is. First of all, the name is a bit misleading. In the United States, non-alcoholic beer may contain up to 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). While that’s low enough to prevent intoxication, it is not zero. Very few brands of non-alcoholic beer measure 0.0% ABV; most are in the 0.4% to 0.5% range.

A less obvious concern is that non-alcoholic beer is brewed to mimic regular (alcoholic) beer as closely as possible in taste and smell. This extra degree of authenticity has been argued to be the difference between relapsing and remaining sober. For instance, If you’ve ever visited somewhere with a familiar smell, maybe of your old elementary school, it can feel like you’ve been whisked back in time to third grade again. This nostalgic feature of the olfactory system has the unpleasant side effect of kickstarting old addictions in the same way that tasting alcohol again would.

What Does Science Say About Alcohol Relapse?

If you peruse online recovery forums, you’ll see that some folks are adamant that drinking non-alcoholic beer will cause a relapse. For them, it’s a matter of when not if. Others insist that they have been safely drinking non-alcoholic beer for years, and no relapse has resulted. Science, it seems, is siding with relapse risk on this question. A 2016 study indicated that the sense of smell is closely associated with triggering cravings. Cravings, it has been well established, are a significant threat to sobriety and a definite relapse risk. In other words, the fact that you won’t get buzzed, tipsy, or drunk from drinking a non-alcoholic beer doesn’t seem to matter much in terms of the risk to recovery.

In fact, alcohol itself is far from the only thing that can cause recovered alcoholics to relapse. Some of the most reported-on causes for relapse after total recovery include:

  • Boredom
  • Isolation
  • Reconnecting with drinking buddies
  • Visiting old drinking spots
  • Emotional discomfort
  • Depression

Take The Right Step When You’re Worried About Alcohol Relapse

Getting sober from alcohol is a hard-won accomplishment, one that takes commitment to maintain every day. While it may be possible for some people to drink non-alcoholic beer without relapsing, there is no question that it poses at least some risk. Consider whether or not it’s worth the risk of reopening an addiction that’s so difficult to shut. At The Right Step, we offer a comprehensive treatment plan at our alcohol treatment center. If you’re interested in learning how we operate and what a life without fear of relapse is like, call 17135283709 today.

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