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Does Non-Alcoholic Beer or Wine Help or Hinder Alcohol Recovery?

Non-alcoholic "drinks" can both control and trigger cravings.

Key points

  • Non-alcoholic options can mimic the experience of drinking without the alcohol risks.
  • Social settings may feel more inclusive with non-alcoholic drink choices available.
  • In some cases, non-alcoholic beer, wine, or spirits can trigger cravings and lead to unwanted binge drinking.
  • Consulting healthcare professionals is vital for a tailored recovery strategy.
This post is in response to
Five Reasons to Take a Break from Booze

Drinking non-alcoholic beer, wine, or spirits might aid recovery from alcohol problems for some people, but it's definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. Non-alcoholic drinks can help or hinder your efforts to cut down on your drinking or stop completely. Whether the use of non-alcoholics beverages is positive or negative, depends on your individual circumstances and the nature of your relationship with alcohol.

The Craving Control Mechanism

On the positive side, non-alcoholic beverages provide a safe alternative to consuming alcohol when you're faced with cravings and urges for a drink. Navigating safely through these cravings without taking a drink ("urge surfing") can help you reduce your overall alcohol consumption or abstain completely. Non-alcoholic beverages can sometimes mimic certain aspects of drinking the "real thing", but without exposing yourself to negative consequences associated with heavy drinking.

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Cheers to good times and great company—raising a toast with friends.
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Socializing Without Alcohol

Another benefit is that non-alcoholic beverages can make it more comfortable for you to participate in social gatherings and events without feeling awkward, out of place, or pressured to drink. You can enjoy mocktails or other non-alcoholic drinks while interacting with others who are drinking.

A Mindful Approach to Recovery

Choosing non-alcoholic beverages can be part of an overall mindful approach to overcoming an alcohol problem wherein you learn to pay more attention to your consumption habits and make more conscious deliberate decisions about what you put into your body. Becoming more mindful of your attachment to alcohol is a valuable tool that can help you achieve your drinking goal-—whether that goal is moderate drinking, less risky drinking, or no drinking.

The Potential Risks of Non-Alcoholic Beer or Wine

Non-alcoholic beverages may not be advisable for everyone trying to overcome an alcohol problem. On the negative side, drinking non-alcoholic beer, wine, or spirits might trigger cravings and lead to an unexpected episode of heavy drinking. Sometimes the “triggering” effect of non-alcoholic beverages is delayed rather than immediate; it can set in motion obsessive thoughts about drinking in the ensuing days or weeks that eventually lead you back to heavy drinking.

A Personalized Approach

Ultimately, whether non-alcoholic beverages help or hinder your attempts to. moderate your alcohol consumption or stop drinking completely depends on the nature, extent, and history of your alcohol challenges, as well as your goals, motivations, and unique personal circumstances. When considering the use of non-alcoholic beverages it is best to consult with a knowledgeable healthcare professional (preferably, an addiction psychologist or other specialist) to develop a personalized approach to alcohol moderation or abstinence that feels intuitively right for you and gives you the tools to successfully achieve your drinking goals.


To find a professional near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

© 2024 Dr. Arnold Washton. All rights reserved.


Bowdring, M. A., McCarthy, D. M., Fairbairn, C. E., & Prochaska, J. J. (2023). Non‐alcoholic beverage consumption among US adults who consume alcohol. Addiction.

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Dobashi, S., Kawaida, K., Saito, G., Owaki, Y., & Yoshimoto, H. (2024). Gender differences in changes in alcohol consumption achieved by free provision of non-alcoholic beverages: a secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial. BMC Public Health, 24(1), 150.

Fisher, P. Jr. (2022). "Dangers Of Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer During Recovery." Addiction Resource

Gonzales, M. (2020). "Nonalcoholic Beverages: Alcohol Alternatives for Addiction Recovery."

Schultz, A. (2022). "Can I Drink Nonalcoholic Beer in Recovery?" Ria Health.

Yoshimoto, H., Kawaida, K., Dobashi, S., Saito, G., & Owaki, Y. (2023). Effect of provision of non-alcoholic beverages on alcohol consumption: a randomized controlled study. BMC medicine, 21(1), 379.

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