For those in recovery from alcohol addiction, socialising or being in environments where alcohol consumption is normalised can be very difficult. Some may consider opting for an unsuspecting alcohol-free beverage to try and fit in.

However, many are unaware of the risks associated with such beverages, including the dangers of non-alcoholic beer.


What is Non-Alcoholic Beer?

Non-alcoholic beer can be defined as a type of beer that contains very low or negligible amounts of alcohol. It’s typically brewed the same way as standard beer but with a focus on minimising the alcohol content, typically to less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).


Why Do People Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer?

It can be a suitable alternative for people who want to enjoy the taste of beer without consuming alcohol due to health, religious, or personal reasons. Additionally, it can be a healthier option and a good alternative for designated drivers or individuals who need to avoid alcohol but still want to socialise in settings where alcoholic beverages are served.

However, it’s important to note that although non-alcoholic beer contains very little alcohol, it is not entirely alcohol-free beer. Therefore, individuals who must strictly avoid any alcohol consumption, such as those in recovery, should exercise caution.

What’s more, peer pressure and addiction can be a recipe for disaster, and often, people view non-alcoholic beer as a happy medium response to peer pressure. We have all been to a party and did not feel like drinking alcohol but felt compelled to do so. Within our culture, alcohol has become a ubiquitous accessory of recreation, synonymous with a good time. Accordingly, in certain social situations, there is almost an expectation that people will drink alcohol.

For people who appreciate that expectation but who do not want to participate, non-alcoholic beer may seem like a subtle substitute. The similarity in bottle designs can help a non-alcoholic beer drinker blend in with the crowd, appearing to join in with everybody else while actually abstaining from alcoholic drinks.


How Are Non-Alcoholic Beers Made?

The brewing process for non-alcoholic beer is actually largely similar to that of traditional beer, involving similar ingredients such as water, malt, hops, and yeast. However, special techniques or additional steps are employed to ensure that the final product has an alcohol content that remains significantly low, commonly falling below 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). 

Non-alcoholic beer is produced through alcohol use by various methods, including (but not limited to):

  • Reduced fermentation – Brewers use specialised yeast strains that produce lower levels of alcohol during a more controlled fermentation process.
  • Steam distillation -This involves heating the beer to evaporate the alcohol, which is then separated from the remaining liquid using a vacuum. The alcohol is condensed back into a liquid form and can sometimes be reused.
  • Reverse osmosis – The beer is passed through a filtration system that separates the alcohol from the other components. The alcohol is then removed, and the remaining liquid is recombined with the beer’s flavour compounds.


The explosion in non-alcoholic beer options has created a great choice for non-drinkers but also new dangers for recovering alcoholics struggling to fight against relapse. For the recovering alcoholic, this relatively new product may seem like a good idea. After all, non-alcoholic beer looks and smells like regular beer. The only difference is the intoxication element, but the stark similarities can be enough to trigger a relapse.

It’s estimated that 70% of alcoholics will experience a relapse in the first year after they stop drinking. The risk is even higher in the first 3 months. So, drinking non-alcoholic beer may seem like a great alternative to stronger substances, but for people in recovery, the impulsive similarity can trigger cravings and create a slippery slope to relapse.

In that uphill battle to stay sober, non-alcoholic beer can be an extra temptation, increasing the likelihood of relapse. Just as cannabis is considered a gateway drug, encouraging users to try more extreme alternatives after initial exposure, non-alcoholic beer can have a similar effect, curtailing years of addiction treatment.


Why Light Beers Are Not a Viable Alternative For Alcoholics

The likelihood of relapse among recovering alcoholics drinking light beers is rooted in science. Drug addiction is a consequence of impulsivity, not alcohol intake. The similarities of non-alcoholic beer to the real thing – in terms of appearance, smell and many other factors – have a psychological effect that inspires cravings.

It’s virtually impossible to become drunk by drinking standard low-alcohol beer due to the small, as a typical person would need to consume approximately 10 to equate to one, standard 5% beer. However, it’s best to avoid non-alcoholic beers, as even a drink with just 0.5 alcohol volume can derail years of progress, putting alcoholics back in that vicious cycle of desire and destruction.

Non-alcoholic beer tends to be made by the same manufacturers as conventional alcoholic drinks and beer. Major brands such as Heineken and Becks have their own range of alcohol-free drinks, distinguished merely by a few digits or a specific colour on the label. To the alcoholic brain, this is a cruel trick because the impulse to drink from the same style of bottle, with all but the same design, is considered acceptable, but drinking alcohol is not. Confusion is common in such circumstances, hence the gateway of temptation.

Putting boundaries in place and avoiding such dangerous potentiality is imperative for recovering alcoholics. In this regard, non-alcoholic beer does more harm than good, and experts recommend avoiding such products in order to maintain a healthy life of sobriety.


Where to Find Help for Alcohol Addiction

Here at Ocean Recovery Centre, we understand the complex nuances of addiction, regardless of the substance that instigates it. Our personable approach to addiction treatment places emphasis on individual realities rather than widespread generalities.

At Ocean Recovery, we offer a structured detox programme, backed by valuable therapy regimens and excellent aftercare support. If you fear a relapse into alcohol dependency, contact our experienced team today at 01253 847 553. Likewise, if you have concerns regarding a loved one, colleague or friend, we can provide free and confidential guidance on the best course of action. This is particularly advantageous for those seeking to understand the dangers of non-alcoholic beer for recovering alcoholics.


John Gillen - Author - Last updated: October 13, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.