Labels, labels, labels – in all senses of the word it can be confusing when working out what to drink instead of alcohol. If you start quaffing alcohol-free beers, are you just replacing one habit with another? Or is a fake alcoholic drink dangerous? How much alcohol is 0.5% really? And why do they not taste like the ‘real’ thing? What options are out there?
Laura tackles the subjects in this week’s webinar. Below are a few of the key questions she answered:
Am I replacing one addiction with another?
The people who often say this to you are people who are still drinking – don’t let them put you off your stride! It is perfectly reasonable to find something new to drink. Changing your drinking habits is not merely about stopping using a substance. It has been hardwired into our brain that alcohol is important for:
- signalling the break between work and ‘your time’
- dealing with stress or emotions
- rewarding yourself for good days and bad days
- pairing with food
- relieving boredom
- being social.
When you are changing your habits you also need to replace a substance you used to use in a number of situations. Thinking you will be able to just drink water instead will soon compound the feelings of denying yourself, FOMO and discomfort you will be going through as you try and change a deeply ingrained habit.
There is no way drinking four alcohol-free beers is as damaging as drinking alcohol. It is even less damaging than replacing it with four cokes. Equally, Laura’s tea habit does not stop her getting up in the morning or do her much health damage!
My counsellor/AA told me that I should not drink alcohol-free beers and wines – why?
It is worth asking the person who told you this for their reasons why. Many people think it is because any alcohol is considered drinking – but if that was the case they would also tell you to avoid eating ripe fruits, leaving your orange juice in the fridge for more than a day, or putting vinegar on your chips (all of these have small amounts of alcohol).
Like everything else with drinking the danger is in the mental associations. If you always drank beer, the taste of a non-alcoholic beer may just make you want to have an alcoholic one. The same with going to the pub. For me, an alcohol-free wine messes with my mind a bit, as I feel like I should be getting drunk. I don’t like the feeling. On the other hand, I never drank beer and it holds no associations for me. An alcohol-free beer is just a drink for me.
Make the decision that is right for you. Many members in Club Soda find alcohol-free drinks helpful in ‘changing the substance’ in the many situations where they used to drink. Funnily enough often, over time, they drink them less and less. Others steer clear. It really is about knowing yourself and what you think will get you to where you want to be.