Dangers of Non-Alcoholic Beer

By April 9, 2024May 2nd, 2024Alcohol Addiction

Spring is here!

What do you associate with spring? We here at Villa Kali Ma think of many sweet and lovely things: cool green grass under our bare toes, the morning sun, and fresh winds in the blooming trees.

Spring signals the return to the vivacity of sleeping creatures. It’s a humming, alive time of year. The season of birds, bees, and…uh oh, BBQs!

That’s right, spring marks the beginning of the season of outdoor gatherings. Of course, they’re fun and wonderful too, but outdoor gatherings can be surprisingly hard to navigate.

Family, friends, groups, the renewing energies of fun in the sun after months of indoor time – these are potentially tricky for people in a personal change process.

For any on a path of recovery from trauma, mental illness, and/or addiction, this 2024 brink-of-spring moment is a perfect time to pause and reflect on set intentions, and strategize:

How can we best keep to our true heart’s intentions of sobriety, self-love, and sanity, in the face of many triggers and distractions? What temptations to self-destroy should we realistically prepare for, during this seemingly bright season? How can we keep a joyful, heartful life front and center?

Want a non-brewski?

This spring, you might get offered a non-alcoholic beer at a gathering.

Non-alcoholic beer is a type of beer with little to no alcohol content. It is intended to mimic the smell and taste of beer, without the same levels of alcohol.

Many household name beer brands offer a non-alcoholic version of their product, intended to serve the market of people who are trying to reduce their alcohol intake without having to give up the pleasures and social purposes of drinking beer.

Non-alcoholic beer is sometimes thought of as a safe alternative to alcoholic beer, though this isn’t true for women who have a history of alcohol addiction, nor for women who are pregnant. Before assuming that non-alcoholic beer is a safe choice for you, it’s probably best to inform yourself as to the full picture!

What is non-alcoholic beer?

Non-alcoholic beer is created in the same way as ordinary beer, through a fermentation process called brewing, which converts sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide. In non-alcoholic beer, an additional step is added to the process, wherein the alcohol is removed or reduced at the end.

The process of making a beverage created through fermentation has less alcohol is achieved by filtering the alcoholic liquid out, and then adding sugars, flavorings, and carbonated liquid back in.

From a sheerly nutritional standpoint, non-alcoholic beer is not a healthy beverage, due to the re-addition of sugars and “flavors”, many of which are artificial, added through chemical processes or compounds.

The carbohydrate content of non-alcoholic beer is higher in comparison to alcoholic beer. Carbohydrates are considered by nutritionists to be problematic in excess (hence the widespread dietary recommendation to consume less carbohydrates). Because of the extra sugars and flavors, non-alcoholic beer tends to have more calories than true beer.

What are the possible dangers of non-alcoholic beer?

a-woman-on-the-beach-meditatingThere are two big dangers of non-alcoholic beer for women, especially those of us who are walking a path of recovery from traumatization, addiction, or mental health struggles.

1. Oops, May Contain Alcohol

The term “non-alcoholic” is misleading. By law, a product can still be called non-alcoholic even if it has up to .5% alcohol by volume. If it is marketed as being fully “alcohol-free”, a product is required by the FDA to be at 0.0%, with zero detectable levels of alcohol in the product.

FDA regulations notwithstanding, critics of non-alcoholic and alcohol-free beer have noted that around 25% of products tested independently come up as having higher alcohol content than reported on their label. There is a realistic chance of the presence of some small percentage of alcohol in non-alcoholic and even alcohol-free beer.

What’s the big deal? Well, for those with an addiction history, any, even a very tiny amount of alcohol can awaken an insatiable, relentless craving for more, which inevitably leads to one place only.

2. May Be A Road to Relapse

Any amount of alcohol can reorient the body to crave alcohol again. It is a property of addiction that a woman’s body and brain are irreversibly changed so that even after many years of sobriety, a tiny trace amount of alcohol will trigger the body to want more alcohol.

What typically happens then, is that a person finds herself drinking non-alcoholic beverages in excess, because the thirst for alcohol and all that goes along with inebriation has been stirred. It is then only a matter of time until it will occur to the drinker that non-alcoholic beverages aren’t doing the trick, and a normal beer will start to seem like a good idea.

We think that our wise mind will stop us in time, and occasionally it does, but we can’t rely upon it. Because of the ways that alcohol addiction distorts thoughts, induces intense bodily craving, and erases personal willpower, we will very likely change back to our Addict selves, once the alcohol has been reintroduced.

The other thing to consider is that alcohol and drug relapses can be triggered just by associations, memories, and behavior even without the presence of actual alcohol. Just hanging out “having a beer” (even a fake one), can be enough to open the door to our personal demons again.

Relapse begins long before the actual choice to put chemicals in our bodies again, (as thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors reminiscent of our using or drinking days), so it’s always a good idea to keep one eye on what we’re doing and why.

What are the dangers of non-alcoholic beer during pregnancy?

Because non-alcoholic beer contains some level of alcohol, it represents a risk for fetal alcohol syndrome, and it is not advised for pregnant women for that reason.

There is no established safe level of alcohol consumption for women during pregnancy, and the birth defects associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy include low birth weight, physical and facial abnormalities, and neurological impacts on the child.

What are alternatives to non-alcoholic beer?

Each woman needs to decide for herself, and no one can do your consciousness-transformation work for you. However, we can always listen to the wisdom and experiences of others and take heed.

At Villa Kali Ma, we recommend staying away from non-alcoholic and even supposedly alcohol-free beer, for the simple reason that it’s not worth the risk.

We have to behave in ways that match our truest and most important intentions and priorities. If being healthy, sane, and sober is a priority for us, then we will naturally shy away from something made to be similar to alcohol by smell and taste.

When hanging out with other people who aren’t on a path of recovery, we need to keep our wits about us, not go foggy and numb, as much as we might want to.

So rather than resorting to saying yes to a non-alcoholic beer this BBQ season, we can take care of ourselves with these three tactics:

1. Set your hang-out plan in advance

Make a less-is-more plan for hanging out, with intention. Decide ahead of time, when in a calm frame of mind: What is a sobriety-safe amount of time to participate in this social gathering? Then stick to your plan no matter what, even if you end up having a better time than you feared.

If your plan goes well this time, and you can have a socially connecting time while staying reasonably centered and mindful, without getting overly triggered during or in the days following the gathering, you can always try hanging out for a longer time the next gathering.

2. Hydrate with Healthy Beverages

A practical hack is to decide to be in charge of bringing a special healthy, hydrating beverage with you to the gathering. Bring plenty for yourself, and others too.

Many delicious, healing tonics can be mixed up with mineral water, fresh limes and lemons, herbs, ginger, and sugar-free juices. Get creative!

For inspiration, you may like some of the ideas here 19 Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes. For the yogis among us, following the trail of Ayurveda can be rewarding: Ayurveda Drink Recipes.

Sometimes just the fun activity of creating a special offering for the group can be a positive way to focus your energies and stay purposeful and aware. You could also choose to bring a fun party favor to be handed out to people or make a healthy snack.

3. Bring Sober Fun

The “now what do I do?” anxious social gathering moment sometimes precedes an ill-fated choice, made in a sudden blurt just to fill up the awkward space!

Feeling like we don’t belong, making small talk, worrying about what people think of us, and other social discomforts are real triggers.

One cure for this is to bring an activity you would enjoy doing, such as a frisbee or a soccer ball, and bust it out when you need something to give you a positive focus.

A little more investment, but also a lot of fun, are group games, like 20 questions (How to Play 20 Questions), or Celebrity (Celebrity: How to Play the “Celebrity” Party Game).

For inspiration, you can browse team-building games like these:  17 Fun Icebreaker Games for Adults and see what you could adapt for your gathering.

Villa Kali Ma can assist women with alcohol addiction


At Villa Kali Ma, we’re dedicated to helping women recover from addiction to alcohol, drugs, and self-destructive behaviors. We also treat the underlying deep pain and disconnection that leads women into those traps in the first place – the tragic effects of traumatization and mental and emotional suffering that take so many of us off the path of a joyful life.

We want every woman to thrive and to grow up fully into her true big beautiful self!

Check out our many offerings for women, including inpatient and outpatient treatment options, on our facilities page.

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