This is an interesting topic. As alcoholics or alcohol abusers, should we be drinking non-alcoholic beers? I've heard mixed messages from different people on this subject and here is what I've learned:
Non-alcoholic beer, also known as low beer, near beer, low alcohol beer, NA beer, or small beer, actually does contain alcohol. To be considered "non-alcoholic", these beers must contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. The alcohol is either boiled or filtered from the beer during the brewing process. Most states in the USA permit sales of non-alcoholic beer to minors. To get drunk from them or to have them affect you physically, it would take drinking quite a number of them. Psychologically, some believe non-alcoholic beer can dangerously give a placebo effect, making you feel like you're drunk, possibly bringing back old feelings and habits.
From what I've heard and read online, most 12-step programs advise against consuming non-alcoholic brews. They say it's a slippery slope. Just the smell of something similar to alcohol could be enough to trigger a craving and lead to a relapse. Some people suggest that pretending you are drinking alcohol is "romanticizing the drink" and can be dangerous. Romanticizing the drink is when a person in recovery remembers the times when alcohol appeared to work for them, when they had good times being drunk. If an alcoholic is drinking a non-alcoholic beer in an attempt to bring back their glory days - this is known as romanticizing the drink. These same people say that if you are determined to build a good life away from addiction, pretend beers won't be needed.
From my point of view, I definitely understand the view that fake beer that still has a teeny weenie bit of alcohol in it, can be dangerous. It may open the flood gates for some people. Technically, I guess it could make you want to go out and get blasted and throw your sobriety away. Personally, it doesn't do that for me. I have the occasional non-alcoholic beer and I also drink mocktails. There is nothing more fun than getting sparkling water and putting it in a wine glass with a lime, like a real normal drinker. I have done this since early sobriety. I believe the decision to indulge in "fake drinks" is a personal one. For myself I think non-alcoholic beer is a blessing. I can indulge when I am at a social gathering, out to dinner, or after work on a long day. It helps me feel not left out, it gives me the momentary feeling that I am not different, and yes it acts maybe as an alcoholic drink would for normal people - it takes the edge off. The best part is - it's not an alcoholic beverage and I don't have to worry about controlling my drinking, getting myself in trouble, being hungover, and all the other bad behaviors that went right along with my drinking. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not binge drinking non-alcoholic beer like I did with regular beer and it does not make me want to go out and get trashed for real. If I wanted to take up the real booze again, I would head straight to the tequila and skip the non-alcoholic beers.
About triggers...well as a person who has an addictive personality, triggers are all around me every day. They are something that will be a part of my life forever. That's the nature of who I am, sometimes on a pretty day out of the clear blue sky for no particular reason at all, I will think to myself, you know what would be good right now? A cocktail. That is a craving people, and only alcoholics get those weird feelings & cravings! I also can't stand a glass that still has liquid in it - alcohol, coffee, tea, water - finish that thing! It's only now that I am learning about myself and about alcoholism that I can identify these traits.
In conclusion I say, if you are comfortable in your recovery, you have probably restricted yourself from a plethora of bad substances, so I see nothing wrong with having a non-alcoholic beer here and there to treat yourself! Besides if alcoholics aren't going to drink non-alcoholic beers, who will?
In the words of Tom Haverford ....