Non-Alcoholic Beverages & Recovery: Key Considerations


Non-alcoholic beverages are gaining immense popularity—recently, one even topped the sales charts as the best-selling beer at Whole Foods. But the critical question remains: are they beneficial for individuals in recovery or considering a path to sobriety? Often used as alternatives to alcoholic drinks at social events, these beverages can help maintain a sense of normalcy and encourage social inclusion. However, choosing to use them should be done with thoughtful consideration to genuinely support your recovery journey. This caution is underscored by research indicating that non-alcoholic beverages might actually heighten cravings and the desire to consume alcohol among those with alcohol use disorder. Ultimately, using non-alcoholic beverages as part of a recovery journey is a personal choice. As our community members have shared, many have found them very helpful, and others, triggering. Below, we delve into essential factors to evaluate if you’re contemplating the inclusion of non-alcoholic beverages in your recovery strategy.

Understanding Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Definition and Varieties

Non-alcoholic beverages include a broad range of drink options such as alcohol-free beers, mocktails, and other specialty drinks often designed to mimic the flavor of alcoholic beverages without the intoxicating effects. Understanding the different types can help you make informed choices that align with your dietary preferences and recovery needs. Many non-alcoholic drinks mimic their alcoholic counterparts by maintaining similar flavor profiles and appearances. However, they can differ significantly in terms of ingredients and nutritional content.

Considerations for Including Non-Alcoholic Beverages in Recovery

Trigger Management

One of the most critical aspects to consider is whether non-alcoholic beverages could act as triggers for you. Research, including at least one major study, indicates that “craving and desire to drink have been found to increase after the consumption of NoLo drinks in patients with AUD.” For some individuals, the taste and setting reminiscent of alcohol consumption might provoke cravings for actual alcoholic drinks, potentially risking a relapse. It’s important to honestly assess your triggers and discuss them with your support network or healthcare provider before deciding to include these beverages in your diet.   

But for many others, engaging in non-alcoholic beverages can be a vital part of their recovery journey, helping them manage cravings, and reclaim their favorite social spaces.  As Arnold Washton, Ph.D notes, “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 also play a key role in helping people in recovery reclaim their favorite social spaces. Last fall, Monument held a virtual event with the owner of the first alcohol-free bar in Texas, Chris Marshall. Chris is both in recovery himself and a pioneer in the alcohol-free beverage movement. Chris’s decision to establish Texas’s first sober bar was driven by the desire to unwind the unfortunate connotation that exists between social gatherings and alcohol. For him and many others in recovery, non-alcoholic beverages play a vital role in reclaiming what it means to gather socially for people in recovery.  Sans bar (the name of Chris’s bar) is a physical testament to Chris and the non-alcoholic beverage movement’s belief that everyone should have a place to enjoy a delicious, refreshing beverage among friends and that participating in that experience doesn’t require alcohol.  

Psychological Impacts

Consider the psychological impact of substituting alcoholic drinks with their non-alcoholic equivalents. Reflect on the reasons behind your choice—are you using these beverages as a direct substitute to satisfy psychological cravings for alcohol? If so, this reliance might hinder the development of more effective coping strategies in social situations and could become a crutch, complicating your recovery process.

Long-term Sustainability

Think about the long-term implications of incorporating non-alcoholic beverages into your lifestyle. Are they a temporary aid, or do you view them as a permanent part of your diet? Understanding your long-term recovery goals and how these beverages fit into that framework can guide you in making the right choice for you.

Making Informed Choices

Consultation with Health Professionals

Before making any significant changes to your recovery plan, including the introduction of non-alcoholic beverages, consulting with a health professional such as a therapist specializing in addiction recovery can provide valuable insights tailored to your specific needs. Monument has a dedicated network of therapists who can give you personalized insights on the impact alcohol-free beverages may have on your recovery.

Educate Yourself

Educating yourself about the various options available and the benefits and drawbacks of each can empower you to make choices that best support your recovery. Knowledge is a powerful tool in recovery, and understanding what you are consuming is integral to maintaining control over your health and sobriety.

Experiment Carefully

If you decide to try non-alcoholic beverages, introduce them cautiously into your recovery journey while closely monitoring their effects on your cravings and overall recovery progress. This careful experimentation can help you determine if they are a helpful part of your recovery or if they might be detrimental.


Incorporating non-alcoholic beverages into your recovery journey requires careful consideration of several factors, including personal triggers, psychological impacts, and your long-term recovery goals. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice but by taking the time to understand the role of these beverages and assess your needs and options with professionals, you can make informed decisions that align with your path to recovery.

About the Author

Zachary Rogers is an alumnus of the University of Michigan and Fordham School of Law, where he completed his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. He began his career at TechGC, an exclusive community for general counsels of leading tech companies and venture funds, where he launched and scaled highly curated industry-specific communities. Currently, Zachary serves as the Director of Growth at Monument, a digital health platform focused on treatment for alcohol use disorder. In this role, he spearheads initiatives across marketing, content, and partnership development to enhance Monument’s growth. He collaborates closely with the clinical team and external experts to produce insightful content that explores the impact of alcohol in our society. His efforts are also directed towards forming strategic alliances with benefits leaders, brokers, payers, and PEOs to integrate Monument’s alcohol treatment platform into employer benefits programs. Zachary is passionately committed to destigmatizing alcohol dependency and reshaping public perception through innovative educational content and meaningful partnerships.