Is Non-Alcoholic Beer Okay For Recovering Alcoholics?

Last Updated on August 10, 2023

Non-alcoholic beer is an extremely fast-growing industry. It’s expected to be worth about $25 billion by 2025 and the popularity of “near beer” beverages is continually growing.1 But is it a good idea for someone in recovery to drink non-alcoholic beer?

Although the answer to this is highly personal, many people in recovery say drinking non-alcoholic beer is a bad idea. If you’re trying to decide for yourself what you should or shouldn’t do, here’s some basic information about non-alcoholic beer and what kind of impact it may have on your recovery.

What Is Non-Alcoholic Beer?

Brewers use traditional brewing methods to make non-alcoholic beer. After making it according to normal alcohol density, brewers boil or cook the alcohol off. Or, they may use an osmosis process to eliminate it.

Brewers don’t ferment near beer, making it a true alcohol-free beer. Regardless, beers labeled “non-alcoholic” can legally still contain anywhere from 0.5%-1.5% alcohol content in America.

Other names for non-alcoholic beer include:

  • Small beer
  • Small ale
  • Low-alcohol beer
  • NA beer

Why Do People Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer?

If you’re unfamiliar with it, you might be wondering, “Why do people drink non-alcoholic beer?” Great question!

The answer is: It varies.

However, many people in recovery justify drinking near beer with the following explanations:

  • They enjoy the taste of beer and near beer allows them to still have it without technically breaking their recovery.
  • It reminds them of real beer, which provides comfort.
  • They don’t have to feel out of place at a bar because people will just assume they’re drinking real beer.

Dangers of Non-Alcoholic Beer for Recovering Alcoholics

Although it would be extremely difficult to get drunk while drinking near beer, there are still many dangers associated with these beverages, especially if you’re recovering from alcohol addiction. In other words, it’s not safe to drink near beer in recovery.

The smell and taste of beer can be a trigger.

Certainly, even if it doesn’t contain a significant amount of alcohol, near beer can be a trigger because it smells and tastes like the real thing. This is backed by science too. One study found that the smell of beer alone may be enough to trigger cravings and cause relapse among certain recovering alcoholics.2 The study reported that alcohol and the anticipation of drinking it can raise dopamine levels in the brain, which contributes to feelings of pleasure.

Going out to bars with your old drinking buddies is tempting.

Even if you’re not drinking “real beer,” going out to bars with your old drinking buddies is like playing with fire. It can be extremely tempting to be in places where you used to drink or to spend time with people you used to get drunk with all the time. In addition, all those sensory experiences can become a huge hurdle that makes it difficult to stay sober and focus on your recovery.

Engaging in the old ritual of drinking to de-stress or have fun can cause relapse.

Sobriety is all about starting over with a new way of living. Therefore, if you go back to drinking near beer to de-stress after work or have fun with your pals, you haven’t really changed your behavior at all. For example, even though you won’t get drunk drinking non-alcoholic beer, it can become a behavioral crutch and may keep you from establishing new, healthier behaviors that don’t revolve around drinking or going to the bars.

Romanticizing drinking is dangerous.

Regularly drinking non-alcoholic beer can make you glorify the “good old days” and miss the days when you could get drunk without having to try so hard to stay sober. As a result, it takes a lot of self-control to drink something that smells and tastes just like beer without eventually giving in and indulging in the real thing.

Is It Okay to Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer In Recovery?

You should avoid non-alcoholic beer and anything that smells or tastes like beer if you’re committed to staying sober. Although the choice to drink (or not to drink) near beer is a personal one that everyone in recovery must make for themselves, there are plenty of great reasons not to drink it.

In other words, instead of relying on non-alcoholic beer to make you feel good, it’s important to develop healthy tools for living sober and to establish a fulfilling sober life for yourself.

What Are Alternatives to Non-Alcoholic Beer?

With the right treatment and support, you shouldn’t need a replacement for an alcoholic beverage because you’ll have the tools and confidence to feel comfortable in your own skin, without a drink. However, in some social situations (especially in early recovery), it may be helpful to have a reliable non-alcoholic alternative. A few great alternatives to beer or near beer are:

  • Club soda
  • Fruit-infused water
  • Unsweetened or sweetened tea
  • Soda
  • Water

Get Help to Develop and Maintain an Alcohol-Free Lifestyle

Above all, the best way to avoid relapse and maintain your sobriety is to develop a new lifestyle that is free of alcohol and old behaviors like going to bars. If you’re struggling to stay sober and you’ve been using non-alcoholic beer as a crutch, the caring treatment professionals at Nova Recovery Center can help you establish a new way of living.

Research indicates that drug and alcohol addiction is a complex disease that requires effective, long-lasting treatment to overcome. Although no single treatment is right for everyone, an effective alcohol addiction treatment program should:3

  • Provide quick access to treatment services
  • Allow for an individual to stay in treatment as long as necessary
  • Provide counseling, behavioral therapy, and sometimes medication
  • Offer treatment plans that are frequently reviewed and modified as needed
  • Address other possible co-occurring disorders
  • Continuously monitor drug use during treatment
  • Test individuals for infectious diseases and teach them about the steps they can take to reduce their risk of contracting these illnesses

Our evidence-based treatment methods use behavioral therapy and other specialized therapies to help you uncover deep-rooted issues that contribute to harmful ways of thinking and behaving. Using a 12-Step-based treatment approach, we’ll help you uncover the causes of your addiction and implement new habits.

During rehab, you’ll meet in groups and one-on-one with licensed therapists, counselors, and addiction treatment experts to work through addiction-related issues. You’ll also participate in 12-Step groups that will expand your self-awareness, teach you more about the process of recovery, and give you opportunities to share your life and learn from your peers in recovery.

Start Your Recovery Journey Today

Moreover, admitting that you need help is the hardest part. But when you’re ready to make a change, just know that the team at Nova Recovery Center is rooting for you! We know that you can overcome your addiction with the right support and treatment. Just call (512) 605-2955 or contact us online to speak with an admissions representative.



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One of our understanding, dedicated advisors will contact you about your options. Begin healing today.

Nova Recovery Center is dedicated to helping you or your loved one get help. Please call or fill out this form for a confidential consultation. One of our understanding, dedicated advisors will contact you about your options. Begin healing today.

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