Fit Recovery

Home » Fitness » The O’Doul’s Maintenance Program: Once a Pickle, Always a Pickle.  There is No Chance of Going Back to Being a Cucumber.

The O’Doul’s Maintenance Program: Once a Pickle, Always a Pickle.  There is No Chance of Going Back to Being a Cucumber.

June 2017

Understanding a recovering drunk isn’t always easy, unless you happen to be one of us.  We get each other without uttering a word.  We’ve been there, made all of the excuses, and lived to laugh about how stupid we were….

Here’s all you need to know about a recovering alcoholic or addict:  Once a pickle, always a pickle.  Much as we’d like, there’s no going back to being a cucumber.  It just is what it is.

Oh sure, we can tap-dance around alcohol.  We can play footsies with it…  We can even pretend with so-called “near-beer”.  To me, there isn’t much funnier than a newly recovering alcoholic flummoxed by their decision to drink a six pack of O’Doul’s, as if it was water.

The only trouble is, who in their right mind sits down to watch TV and hammers through a six-pack of water?  How about a twelver of Mountain Dew?

Nobody.  Ever.  Near-beer, near death.

Once a pickle, always a pickle.  You can pretty it up with nice language, you can call the recovery “evidence based” even when there’s no evidence it works at all, but when you boil all of the BS out, it’s just pickles living with being a pickle.

Oh, and one final point to put a bow on this post, on the near beer front:  Read the fine print.  It’s not alcohol free (less than 1/2% alcohol by volume) and if you’re delusional enough to believe that a half-percent doesn’t matter, well come back and tell me I’m wrong after the relapse.  The body and mind remember.  Do the math.  1/2% alcohol by volume over a six pack, you’re at 3% or half a beer (and several trips to the bathroom).  That’s more than enough to set off the craving in any ex-drunk.

I know this to be true.  24 years ago I had 1-1/2 O’Doul’s at a friend’s birthday party.  I was seconds away from a full-blown relapse when I set that half-finished O’Doul’s down and made a beeline for the door.  I can still remember the fear.  That was the first time I’d ever left half of anything sitting on the table.  Because I am, and always will be, a pickle.


  1. I hope you sponsor someone. I like how you tell it like it is, no BS.

  2. unironedman says:

    It’s okay being a pickle, as long as you’re not pickled… sorry… I couldn’t resist it!!! I’ll get my coat…

  3. Brent says:

    I agree about the danger of this sort of beverage. I don’t drink O’Douls or any of the “almost alcohol-free” beers. I did on one occasion and while I didn’t feel the alcohol, I realized it would be tempting fate to get in that habit. Sobriety is hard enough without creating one’s own risks, and for such minimal reward. It’s hard, though, to turn down “near beer” when people buy a six-pack because they know someone will be there who doesn’t drink and they’re trying to be kind, worried that I might feel left out if I can’t drink something like what they have… it can be somewhat difficult to resist the social pressure.

    The two “oops” moments I’ve had in my years of sobriety were due to complete accidents, so my conscience was clear. In one case, I opened a sealed bottle of cranberry-grape juice and poured a glass only to discover that air had somehow gotten in and it had fermented. Who could anticipate such a thing from a factory-sealed bottle? Fortunately, I spit it out without swallowing and my sponsor happened to be in the room to help me through it.

    • bgddyjim says:

      That’s crazy, man! Fermented grape juice?!

      • MJ Ray says:

        I understand that some fermented grape juice is quite popular and sells for big bucks 😉

        I like low alcohol beer after cycling on a hot day but I’m not sure I’d give it to a recovering alcoholic! It’s still beer, after all, even the 0,0% stuff. It’s pretty poor if they can sell half percent beer as non alcoholic in the USA. No labelling truth laws there?

      • bgddyjim says:

        Chuckle…. Leave it to you.

        There are label laws in the US, yes indeed. We didn’t just hop off our horses last year. I don’t know how it works, specifically but it would be some linguistic bending that claims there’s a difference between “non-alcoholic” and “No alcohol”.

  4. Paul S says:

    I have had this discussion with lots of people, and for me, I am very adamant about this – I don’t go near the stuff. It’s too slippery a slope for me. Of all the thousands of cold drinks out there, why that one in particular do you feel you need to have? I often ask. Drinking vicariously in one way or another is one step closer to the real deal. That means that there is something going on. Sure, I know some people with long term recovery who have them. I am not going to hammer them with it, but for the newcomer…no dice. As the old joke goes, NA beer says right on the can – it’s for “non-alcoholic”s!

    Great post – agree completely.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: