What about “non-alcoholic” beer in recovery?

Q. I quit drinking about 6 months ago. Things are most certainly getting better but I was wondering what effects if any have you seen in regards to non-alcoholic beer?

Beverages may be called non-alcoholic if they contain no more than 0.5% alcohol (one-half of one percent). That is roughly one 1/10th the percentage in a can of regular beer. That’s not much, but we don’t know how much it takes to keep the brain from recovering as it should, nor how much having low levels of blood alcohol for hours at a time (assuming that you drink more than one) has an effect. It seems to me that it is a danger that can be avoided, and thus undesirable.

Just as important, however, is the psychology. I’m telling myself that I can’t drink, but that I can keep on pretending that I can. I can hang with my troops and do the stuff we used to do, I’ll just drink O’Doul’s® or whatever. That shows reservations about our disease, regardless of what excuses we adopt, and indicates a definite ambivalence about remaining clean and sober.

I suspect that you may not be attending enough meetings, and that you didn’t discuss this issue with your sponsor (if you have one).  If you aren’t going to meetings, then I’d start. You can cheat on some things, but cheating on sobriety — whether physically or mentally — eventually lands you off the wagon and back in the muddy rut. It seems to me that knowingly drinking alcohol, even in small quantities, comes extremely close to just plain old drinking.

Some folks might disagree about this, but I know people who relapsed after thinking they could drink the stuff. I can’t say whether or not that was the cause, or just an expression of the “easier, softer way,” but I certainly wouldn’t take the chance myself, even after all this time.

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