Can An Alcoholic In Recovery Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer

From JC:This guest post has raised an interesting question. I’ve heard people in AA say that a recovering alcoholic should shy away form beverages that taste like beer which are non-alcoholic, such as O’dules. My personal opinion is that if someone is serious about staying sober, they will not flirt with people, places or things that may cause them to drink again. Actually, I think I read somewhere that O’dules is an alcohol reduced beverage not non-alcoholic.

Guest post: Lisa
I posted my story some months ago. Its been about 8 months now and I am still living with the alcoholic. I say that he is because even though I do not see any beer being brought home, I still have a hard time believing that he is not drinking. I seem to always ask myself questions when he is around, like looking at his eyes for clues or wondering what he drank when he went to lunch at a sports bar etc. But recently he deceided to start drinking non alcoholic beer. He makes comments such as “if I would have known 18yrs ago that I could drink all the beer I wanted and not get drunk I would have”. These comments make me angry. I have mentioned to him that alcholics should not submit to drinking non alcoholic beer but he thinks its ok. But it is not for me and my kids. It brings back bad memories. Does anyone out there have any advice?

From JC: Lisa, thank you for taking the time to share more of your situation with us. There were a few articles that came to mind as I read about your situation.

Here they are:
How To Stop Obsessing Over An Alcoholic
Letting Go Of An Alcoholic
Trying To Control An Alcoholic

All three of these articles will have a few good tips on how to cope with this situation better. I think that the beginning of recovery for those of us dealing with alcoholics starts with learning how to let them live their lives as they choose. If  he wants to drink non-alcoholic beer there’s not much that can be done about that. You can, however, begin to learn about the things you are powerless over.

14 comments to Can An Alcoholic In Recovery Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer

  • K

    I have no idea if they should or should not drink Odouls; however, I felt I needed to tell you my small experience. I feel I was in a similar situation with my husband. First, the fear that you think he may be drinking all the time. I struggled with that a lot. It is not fun or healthy for you to keep thinking that way. My prayers are with you.

    My husband used Odouls to cover up the “smell” of alcohol on his breath. He was drinking heavily and I had no idea because he would drink an Odouls and that is what I thought the smell was. I am not saying that is your situation, but felt I needed to let you know.

    Best wishes.

  • JC

    WOW K, what you have shared is astonishing. Alcoholics are masterminds when it comes to trying to cover up their intoxicated state. The interesting thing about what you have shared is that with this type of insight one may tend to want to investigate more to see if the alcoholic is covering over the smell of real beer. That’s the sort of obsessive thinking we try to avoid at all costs. When we get caught up in trying to figure these things out, we just drive ourselves insane. The way it works is that even if we were able to prove that an alcoholic in recovery was drinking and masking the odor with O’dules, they would just lie about it and deny the whole thing. That’s the insanity that we live with and must learn how to avoid getting trapped in.

  • Judy

    My opinion on this subject is a hands down NO. An alcoholic in recovery should not be engaging in drinking “non-alcoholic” beer as even though beer such as ODouls is marketed as non-alcoholic there are still minute traces of alcohol in it, which in itself is a trigger. Drinking 6 non alcoholic beers is the equivalent of drinking one regular beer. My experience with people I know in Alanon have 100% attested to the failure of their loved ones recovery due of this method of thinking by the alcoholic….every time they experiment with non-alcoholic beverages, a full blown relaspe is within reach. Perhaps this has “worked” for some recovering alcoholics, I personally have never heard anything positive that comes from it. It has been my experience that this kind of behavior and engaging does not work effectively for one to be successful in recovery.

  • Sheila

    Since when is lying, coming up with ‘ways’ such as non-alcoholic beer, misleading one’s spouse, etc. really the behavoir of Marriage?
    It is more the behavior of a naughty adolescent trying to see how much wrong he/she get away with without being caught.

    In my case, I could not accept being lied to and misled, and let down…that is not the behavor I give to my husband and could not accept it once I saw the truth.
    I gave him many second chances to to face this issue, but in the end he couldn’t ‘not drink’.
    Now we are separated for 2 1/2 months and I am starting to feel myself returning to me.

    The alcohol makes him care more about himself than others. Is this the lesson to teach your children? Is this the example of a husband for them to imitate or expect?

    It is tearing me up inside that my daughter now is the child of a broken home and will forever have that sad ‘claim to fame’, but I want her future husband to treat her with full respect and love, which is not how her daddy treats me.

    BTW: my husband tried the non-alcoholic beer routine too…it had me so very upset because it hurt me…I said “NO”…no flirting or fantasizing about the other woman allowed.

  • JC

    Sheila, I’m not sure where you are with belief in God, but I can say that my experience with Him is that He has healed my children from many of the hurts that were inflicted due to their exposure to alcoholism.

  • Sheila

    JC, what a timely response to my post! Knowing what the aclholic behavor has done to me, how can I not care about what it can do to my daughter when she will be with him on ‘his weekends’? Yet, just now I am letting go and letting God.
    A therapist told me to my face THREE times “Children are resilient.” Then just this past weekend when I confided this deep fear/concern I have for her well being to my pastor, he simply told me to keep the lines of communication with her open so that she can talk to me if somehting happens that she doesn’t like. So your message is indeed timely for me!
    So, I will trust God to take care of her, trust God to continue to give me right judgement about situations and how to handle them and accept that she will have alone time with an alcoholic as our divorce seems immenent.
    Thanks everyone!

  • Caitlyn

    Lisa I would say an emphatic no to drinking non alcoholic beer. It’s not just the alcohol they are addicted to but the whole associated range of behaviours and many use alcohol as their logical reasoning for those misbehaviours. Anyone with an alcohol addiction that is on the path to recovery must steer well away from anything faintly resembling alcohol as the mere memory of it is still close in the mind’s surface and ready to errupt into a full blown relapse.

    I use to ask myself the same question and have worked out that the answer if you ask yourself and be open to the answer you’ll give yourself is a big fat no. No way should an recovering alcoholic flirt with the notion of alcohol even if it is a psuedo one. It’s the trigger for the real stuff and a downward spiral. Take away all temptation. It’s the only way to keep them strong about their conviction to stay sober. There are so many other nice, healthy drinks available. So many delicious fruit juices or lemonades why tempt ill fate by sipping the drink of the devil. Because this is what it represents to your recovering alcoholic.

    The same goes for alcohol in cooking or Christmas pudding or Christmas cake. No. Don’t do it. They can taste it and it will become the trigger to returning to drinking the stuff full on.

    You aren’t a friend if you place anything with alcohol or non-alcoholic content as in a pseudo drink in front of them or within reach. Get rid of the stuff for their sake. It’s a case of out of sight, out of mind.

    Hope this helps you all. Cheers, Caitlyn

  • JC

    Caitlyn, it’s good to hear form you. I’ve missed your comments. Where have you been? I was just thinking of how important it is for someone who is “working” to stay sober, must recoil from all temptations like a protecting ones self from a hot flame.

    Sheila, it sounds to me like one great positive in your situation is that dad wants time with his daughter. Relying on God for discernment in making right decisions is so important to me. How is the relationship between the two of them?

  • Diana

    Lisa, my advice would be for you and the kids would be to ask the Lord to show you how to enrich your life and the kids. This happens one day at a time. In other words stop focusing on the alcoholic. Just stop. When the obsessive thoughts pop into your mind with all the questions and suspicions say to yourself, “Stop.” and make the decision that today with God’s help I’m going to do something interesting and fun with my kids and then go out and do it. Ask them what things would be fun for them. Take them on a picnic, go to the library, go fishing or to a park. Go enjoy life. Anything we feed, like troublesome thoughts, grows….so starve the thoughts and feed the good thoughts. Take action and enjoy your day. I’m praying for you! God bless you and your precious children.

  • Karens

    Also, be aware that the alcoholic will find anyway he can
    to hide how much he is drinking. If they walk around all
    day with a big coffee up in hand, they are drinking their
    beer. I found my alcoholic was pouring his beer into an
    empty coke can. He uses a beer can cover to hide the fact
    he is drinking the stuff. Don’t run around checking all
    th tricks, they just come out of the wood work. It is wasted energy. Spend that time doing quality things with
    your daughter. Cleaning and exercise helps too. learn to
    live and enjoy YOUR LIFE. God Bless, thins can get better.

  • Sheila

    JC, Thanks for the comment!
    The relationship between my daughter and her daddy is pretty good.
    Yet, being an alcoholic still, he introduces chaos into every I observe things.
    With God’s help I am discerning steps slowly, but it seems correctly.
    It seems God is opening the door to my liberation at this time, and I fully intend to make my exit from prison legally official and then have the marriage annuled in my church and thus be truly official.
    Discerning how to formulate custody issues in the divorce for the best interest of my child is what is on my mind now. Thanks.

  • Caitlyn


    On your point, I agree they will find a way to get to their drink. Sometimes hiding it in cans or a coffee mug. That is why I think, don’t berate them about their drinking. It doesn’t do anything except make they become sly and cunning about how they go about drinking. I think it is wiser and better for all to encourage honesty and turn a blind eye to their drinking as it only makes you bitter and unwell and for them if they are encouraged to be honest and upfront and not hide it, maybe, just maybe they will come to the realisation that they have a problem and they may come to you for help as they trust you because they haven’t had to hid the facts from you. Badgering someone, anyone for anything never gets anywhere except it leaves a wake of discomfort and unhealthy negativity. Better an honest drunk and alcoholic than a sly untrustworthy one.

    Out of this though, most of all look after yourself first and your loved babies/kids and then anything left over, concern yourself about the alcoholic in your life in a controlled and loving manner. Accept the fact they drink and don’t let them be dishonest about it. Pray that they will seek help. Badgering won’t help but if you leave them in peace they just may see it for what it is as you go about your life living it as God intended for you and they just may want to join you and be encouraged to do so by accepting accountability for themselves and their habit and action and do something about it and so take the path of sobriety.

    Some of you may disagree with this, but I’ve found honesty has worked in many ways for me with my alcolholic. He’s not on the path to sobriety although he protests many times that he wants to. A common mantra for them isn’t it. But by loving him, not badgering him about it, expecting honesty about his drinking and not hiding it, we have many pluses in our relationship to be thankful for. I walk away if he’s ever misbehaving. That helps. It makes him aware of his behaviour and he controls himself to meet the boundaries set for both our sanities. I haven’t had a bad episode in months. So life is good in a sense for me and I accept him as he is and what he has. He’s not one of the really dreadful alcoholics that physically abuse. I’d never tolerate that sort of behaviour. No one should. Walk away forever if they ever do that. There’s no coming back from that sort of behaviour no matter how much they plead with you after the fact. Until they sober up stay away from the alchoholic that does that.

  • Michael Belk @workplace issues

    My first response is not they should not drink NA beer because they might swap one dependency for another one.

  • don

    There is no god It’s all BULLSHIT!

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