Non-alcoholic beers can be helpful for those looking to take a break from alcohol or have a low-calorie beer. For those in recovery from alcohol abuse, drinking non-alcoholic beers could pose a potential risk for relapse. There are several factors to be considered when deciding to drink non-alcoholic beers in recovery, such as the individual’s history with alcohol, their stage in recovery, and their triggers.

What is Non-Alcoholic Beer?

Non-alcoholic beer is a beverage that mimics the taste and look of regular beer while containing little to no alcohol. These beverages use traditional beer-making ingredients and follow the standard processes of mashing, boiling, and fermenting. The difference between regular and non-alcoholic beer is the method used to either prevent or reduce the formation of alcohol. These methods can include limited fermentation to minimize alcohol production or post-fermentation techniques to remove alcohol from the finished product. Non-alcoholic beers typically contain an alcohol content of less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), although some brands offer entirely alcohol-free beers with 0.0% ABV.

The flavor of non-alcoholic beer is intended to be similar to that of regular beer. While some differences are often noticeable due to the changes in the brewing process, the variety and quality of non-alcoholic beers have significantly improved over the years. This beverage is trendy among individuals who want to enjoy the social aspects of drinking beer without the effects of alcohol, whether for health reasons, personal preferences, or lifestyle choices. A common concern is whether or not people in recovery should drink non-alcoholic beer or if it will break their sobriety and potentially be a relapse trigger.

The Potential Risks of Non-Alcoholic Beers

Non-alcoholic beers, while a popular alternative for many trying to avoid drinking alcohol, can present potential risks for people recovering from alcohol addiction. The taste and ritual associated with drinking beer, even if non-alcoholic, can trigger cravings for alcohol in some people. One of the main concerns is that drinking non-alcoholic beers might trigger relapse for those in recovery. While non-alcoholic beers generally contain less than 0.5% ABV, this small amount of alcohol can be problematic for some individuals in recovery. The act of drinking something that resembles beer closely can psychologically interrupt the process of abandoning alcohol-related behaviors and associations. The effects of non-alcoholic beers vary widely among individuals, making it difficult to predict whether non-alcoholic beers are helpful or harmful in any particular case.

Triggers and Psychological Impact

Non-alcoholic beers closely resemble the taste, smell, and appearance of regular alcoholic beers. This similarity can be a sensory trigger for people in recovery, reactivating cravings for alcohol. While drinking non-alcoholic beers can make socializing in environments where others are drinking alcohol feel more comfortable, it might reinforce habitual behaviors associated with alcohol use. This could potentially make it harder to break free from old patterns and fully commit to a sober lifestyle. Consuming non-alcoholic beers in specific social settings or emotional states associated with previous alcohol use can lead to increased temptation or cravings.

Risk of Relapse

There’s a concern that non-alcoholic beers might lead to rationalizing or gradually retreating to alcoholic ones, especially in moments of reduced caution or heightened stress. Some might falsely believe that drinking non-alcoholic beers means they can handle or control their alcohol consumption, potentially leading to relapse. Although the alcohol content in non-alcoholic beer is a small amount, it could still have a psychological effect on people in recovery and possibly trigger alcohol cravings.

Personal and Contextual Factors

For someone in the early stages of recovery, the risks of drinking non-alcoholic beers might be higher than for someone who has been in recovery longer. People’s responses to non-alcoholic beers can vary widely based on personal history, addiction patterns, and psychological factors. Without proper support from peers, addiction counselors, or recovery support groups, navigating the risks associated with non-alcoholic beers can be more challenging.

Is it Okay to Drink Non-Alcoholic Beers in Recovery?

While it is not particularly wise or safe to drink non-alcoholic beers in recovery, it is a personal decision you should consider on your alcohol recovery journey. It’s crucial to understand your own internal and external triggers and assess how closely non-alcoholic beer might resemble your past drinking experiences. Since these beverages typically contain up to 0.5% alcohol, even this small amount can be problematic for some individuals in recovery, potentially triggering cravings or disturbing memories associated with drinking alcohol.

Consulting with your addiction counselors, therapists, or support groups can help provide personalized advice tailored to your history and current stage of recovery. If your intentions for choosing a non-alcoholic beer are for social reasons, consider trying safer alcohol-free alternatives, such as sparkling water, mocktails, or sodas. Being mindful of how consuming non-alcoholic beer affects your thoughts, cravings, and overall recovery can provide essential insights into whether it’s a suitable choice for you. Every person’s recovery journey is unique, and what may be harmless for one might be dangerous for another.

Alternatives to Non-Alcoholic Beers: Safe Drink Options for Those in Recovery

For recovering alcoholics, finding safe and satisfying alternatives to alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic beers is often essential to staying sober in recovery. These safe, enjoyable, alcohol-free drinks should ideally not trigger cravings or mimic the taste of alcohol too closely.

  • Sparkling water
  • Non-alcoholic kombucha
  • Mocktails
  • Fruit juices and smoothies
  • Craft sodas and artisanal drinks

When choosing alternative drinks in alcohol recovery, it’s crucial to consider external and internal triggers and personal preferences to best support your journey toward lasting sobriety.

Seeking Drug Rehab Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Prioritizing your health and well-being is crucial for maintaining sobriety in long-term recovery. If you recognize yourself struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, choosing rehab treatment can be your first step towards a more fulfilling life in addiction recovery. Drug and alcohol rehab centers offer specialized programs for alcohol use disorders (AUDs), substance use disorders (SUDs), and opioid disorders to cater to your specific needs.

Taking the step to enter rehab is a brave step toward overcoming your alcohol addiction. Addiction recovery is more than abstaining from alcohol and drug use, it’s a journey toward holistic healing and rebuilding and improving your life, health, and relationships.

We are here to talk to you. Reach out to Coastal Detox today and get started on your path to recovery!




  • PubMed, 2021. Non- and low-alcoholic beer – popularity and manufacturing techniques.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2018. CPG Sec 510.400 Dealcoholized Wine and Malt Beverages – Labeling.