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Are Mocktails Okay if I’m in Recovery?

Can You Enjoy Mocktails in Recovery?

For people in recovery from alcohol addiction, questions about whether they can have nonalcoholic beers or mocktails often arise. Many societies view alcohol as both a drink and a social activity. This makes it a common concern for individuals in recovery and their support networks.

Why People Drink Alcohol

People consume alcohol for various reasons. Some enjoy the physical or social effects, while others savor the taste of beer or wine. Crafting cocktails and exploring different types of alcoholic beverages are popular hobbies. So, is nonalcoholic beer or mocktails a safe alternative for those in recovery who want to join the social scene without risking relapse?

The Positives

Enjoying well-crafted alcohol-free cocktails or nonalcoholic beer can provide a way for people in recovery to participate in social events where alcohol is served. In early recovery, feeling isolated is common, and the fear of being excluded or seen as different can lead to relapse. Trying various nonalcoholic drinks can create opportunities to connect with friends who drink, showing that sobriety doesn’t mean missing out on the fun.

Anyone looking to reduce their alcohol intake and live a sober life might choose nonalcoholic beer or mocktails. Health-focused challenges like Dry January and Sober October have contributed to the popularity of nonalcoholic beverages. New and creative choices are appearing on the market, appealing to those who appreciate the taste of different liquors or beer and those who enjoy visually appealing drinks that are perfect for sharing on social media. Mocktail recipes and how-to videos are also trending on social platforms.

The Risks

Nonalcoholic beverages may not be entirely risk-free for people in recovery. Some “nonalcoholic” beers and spirits still contain small amounts of alcohol. Even though most of it is removed, some alcohol can be produced during fermentation. In the United States, beers can be labeled “alcohol-free” if they have less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). This amount is minuscule and won’t cause intoxication from one or two drinks. Surprisingly, everyday foods like bananas and hamburger buns contain similar trace amounts of alcohol.

The more significant risk with nonalcoholic beverages is the potential trigger they pose. For some individuals in recovery, “near beer” or artificial spirits can be psychologically dangerous. They closely mimic the taste and appearance of alcoholic drinks, which could trigger cravings and lead to a slippery slope toward relapse.

The Stout Street Foundation, a nonprofit recovery organization, warns that tasting beer can evoke euphoric memories of past drinking experiences. For individuals struggling with addiction, it can be challenging to remember or acknowledge the negative consequences of alcohol abuse.

If someone in recovery feels the urge to consume a stronger alcoholic drink after having a nonalcoholic beer, it’s essential to recognize this trigger and stop immediately.

Are Nonalcoholic Beverages Okay in Recovery?

Ultimately, the decision to consume nonalcoholic beverages during recovery is personal. People in recovery should trust their decision-making abilities. Those who enjoy the taste or atmosphere without triggering relapse may indulge in mocktails. Others may decide to avoid nonalcoholic options if they find them triggering.

Regardless of their stance on nonalcoholic drinks, individuals in recovery should identify their triggers and develop confidence in navigating social situations without alcohol. While nonalcoholic beverages can help avoid questions about not drinking and foster a sense of inclusion, assessing one’s social circle and whether negative peer pressure regarding drinking is present is crucial.

Things to Consider

If you’re thinking about trying nonalcoholic beverages in recovery, here are some tips:

  • Track Your Triggers: Identify both internal and external triggers related to drinking. If nonalcoholic beer triggers you, make a note for your therapist or sponsor. Also, note any psychological triggers you experience when consuming any beverage.
  • Avoid High-Risk Situations: Avoid situations where excessive drinking is expected whenever possible. Avoiding the trigger entirely can help you resist the pressure to drink.
  • Plan Ahead: Recognize that in a culture where alcohol is prevalent, you may find yourself in situations where people are drinking. Prepare your responses in advance and be ready to say no and leave if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Talk it Through: Discuss your thoughts on nonalcoholic beverages with your sponsor, who understands your feelings and can offer valuable insights and an outside perspective.
  • Give Yourself Permission to Leave: If you plan to attend an event where both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks are served but find it more triggering than expected, allow yourself to leave gracefully. Your loved ones will understand.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, you can contact Cornerstone of Recovery 24/7 at 866-572-9474 to get the help you need.



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