Can Non-Alcoholic Beverages be a Trigger for Those in Recovery

What is Recovery for an Alcoholic?

While there are several modes of treatment for alcoholism, there is not one defining definition for alcohol recovery. “Best practices” supported by research help to shape quality alcohol recovery, and treatment programs. In general, recovery from alcoholism relies, at its foundation, on the cessation of using alcohol. Research is now looking into how people achieve and sustain remission and long-term recovery.

But the essence of recovery is more than whether a person completely abstains from alcohol. In most quality treatment programs, the focus of treatment examines issues surrounding: what alcohol does to the body and brain, self-care (life skills), taking responsibility for one’s actions, the ability to care about others (empathy), mental health, physical health (all part of self-care), spiritual health, personal growth, making necessary changes in behaviors that produce negative consequences, positive social interactions, etc.

Recovery treatment protocols generally utilize a variety of therapies, including but not limited to the following:

  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Medication Management and Co-occurring Disorders
  • Nutrition
  • Physical exercise
  • Spiritual exploration (in some form)
  • Art and Meditation Classes
  • Life Skills
  • Aftercare plans
  • Work assessment
  • 12 Step Programs (in some instances)

Not all treatment programs use the same therapeutic modalities, but quality programs will have a range of therapies conducted by a licensed therapist that consist of “best practices”. 

In a study, Elements That Define Recovery: The Experiential Perspective, researchers found that six elements most endorsed by >90% included: “essential recovery” (being honest with myself, handling negative feelings without using drugs or alcohol, being able to enjoy life without drinking or using drugs like I used to) and three elements of “enriched recovery” (a process of growth and development, reacting to life’s ups and downs in a more balanced way than I used to, taking responsibility for the things I can change).”

What are triggers?

Addiction to alcohol or drugs or both is a multidimensional condition that includes economic status, social status, educational status, health status, psychological status, physical status, genetics, past trauma, and a host of other contributing factors. Layers upon layers blend together in the development of Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

When a client is in treatment, whether outpatient or residential treatment, he/she/they are subject to a range of challenges that may not decrease when he/she/they are out of treatment care and living a “sober” life. Stressors may challenge a person in recovery regularly or intermittently. Stressors can be referred to as triggers; by definition, a trigger is an external stimulus that induces a reaction. The intensity of a trigger is dependent upon many factors. The response may start as a psychological stressor but can become a physical stressor, commonly known as a craving.

Resilience is one aspect of recovery that is crucial in managing stressors and takes time to develop, including acquired life skills, a healthy support system, healthy habits, etc. 

While there is a saying in 12 Step programs, “ you are only as far away from a drink as the length of your arm,” which applies to everyone in Alcoholic recovery, triggers may present as more intense in early sobriety than at other times. 

Alcohol-free beverages that seem like beer or wine can be a trigger to start drinking. In some of the non-alcoholic beers, there are trace amounts of alcohol. These can have a psychological impact on a person in recovery.

The act of drinking a non-alcoholic beverage may occur in a familiar spot where drinking alcohol occurred. Indeed, in some individuals, the sensation of being drunk may occur after consuming a non-alcoholic beverage.

Situations (people, places, things) can set off triggers. Perhaps you arrive at a family gathering. You know there will be alcoholic beverages, so you bring your non-alcoholic drink instead of tea, coffee, or soda. But, not only the beer-like substance in this environment can trigger you. Bringing a non-alcoholic beverage, while its intention may have been healthy, adds levels of stress to a difficult situation. The family dynamics can profoundly impact your sobriety: it may be trying, at the very least.

Hosia Keene (M.A., LMHC) integrated provider at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation treatment Center is quoted as saying, “anything can be a trigger if a person associates it with past drinking—the smell, the taste, the location, who’s there, the occasion or social setting. We know we can’t avoid it all. So what we try to do is help to understand and then anticipate which ones are going to be problematic…”

Cope with triggers you can’t avoid

It’s not possible to avoid all tempting situations or to block internal triggers, so you’ll need a range of strategies to handle urges to drink. Here are some options:

  • Remind yourself of your reasons for making a change. Carry your top reasons on a wallet card or in an electronic message that you can access easily, such as on a mobile phone or a saved email. (Visit the pros and cons page to list and sort your reasons.)
  • Talk it through with someone you trust. Have a trusted friend on standby for a phone call, or bring one along for support in situations where you might be tempted to drink.
  • Distract yourself with a healthy, alternative activity. For different situations, come up with engaging short, mid-range, and longer options, like texting or calling someone, watching short online videos, lifting weights to music, showering, meditating, taking a walk, or doing a hobby.
  • Challenge the thought that drives the urge. Stop it, analyze the error in it, and replace it. Example: “It couldn’t hurt to have one little drink. WAIT a minute—what am I thinking? One could hurt, as I’ve seen ‘just one’ lead to lots more. I am sticking with my choice not to drink.”
  • Ride it out without giving in. Instead of fighting an urge, accept it as normal and temporary. As you ride it out, keep in mind that it will soon crest like an ocean wave and pass.
  • Leave tempting situations quickly and gracefully. It helps to plan your escape in advance.”

For those in early recovery, it is best to avoid non-alcoholic beverages. There are too many variables that can become triggers. Sobriety is worth the effort, and getting your life back is the reward–do not risk it for non-alcoholic beer or wine.

If you need help, call Recovery Bay a drug and alcohol rehab center designed to help men recover from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Speak to a specialist now and find the path to regain your life. Living with active addiction consumes every aspect of one’s life; it causes pain and hardship to those who love you. Call now for help.

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Connor Barton
Connor Barton
2022-06-03
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Jacob Rashid
2022-06-03
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So nice to have Grandma back to her old self. She has struggled with xannies for as long as I can remember. The staff were so attentive and met her where she was, not where they wanted her to be. Thank you Coastal Detox!
Tara Payne
Tara Payne
2022-05-20
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I struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my life. After many tries nothing worked.It was my 43rd birthday and I wasn't gonna see 44 if I didn't get help. I called around and found Coastal. So glad I did. I am so grateful for EVERYONE there. This beautiful facility is not just a detox. They actually have programs to help you learn to live a sober life and enjoy being yourself again! Entire staff is awesome! (Ms Diana ❤️ and Mrs Karen ❤️)They really understand how your feeling as most are in recovery also. If your looking for some help please give them a call. I give them 10+stars. Five months sober now!!! Thank you Coastal!!!
Bob Hawkins
Bob Hawkins
2022-05-04
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The entire staff of Coastal is great, the therapists, the nurses, the techs, everyone. It’s a great environment to begin your recovery in. As an added perk, the food is some of the best you’ll ever have thanks to the chefs.
Tony Givens
Tony Givens
2022-05-04
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My experience at coastal detox was very good, the staff there is terrific. They helped me get through the process of detox in a safe and professional manor.
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
2022-03-21
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It been almost a year!! Thank y’all
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Matthew Mcnulty
2022-03-07
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This is the top tier Rehab/Detox center in Southeast FL. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Their attention to detail is impressive. They specialize in treating alcohol abuse among several other conditions. If you or a loved one are looking for a blueprint on how to sober up…Coastal Detox will lead you there.
Mary Katz
Mary Katz
2022-02-26
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My experience with Coastal has been one of empathy, kindness and family. From Admissions to Nurses to techs I have never felt so cared for. Food and drink 24/7. Coastal is a place I went twice. First time 14 days next 6days later for another 11. At 59 and umpteen detoxes Coastal by far is Heaven Sent! As a Nutritionist and Trainer, I'm so happy to be back....the Mary ,who was lost:)
vicky ehr
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2022-01-29
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Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

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