Back when I quit drinking alcohol (etc.), way back in ’92, the closest thing to a non-alcoholic beer actually had alcohol in it. Not much, something like a half of 1% alcohol by volume, if I remember. O’Doul’s was the “near beer” of choice back then.
Somewhere shortly after my six month anniversary, I had exactly one and one-half O’Doul’s near beers at a local bar whilst celebrating a drinking friend’s birthday.
Long story, short, my body remembered the alcohol f***ing instantly. Just that infinitesimal amount… I started shaking, and I could feel the pull to “go all the way” and order a “real” beer. I left immediately. I just got up, apologized, and walked out. That was the last time I spent time with a friend from the old life. I called him up later in the week and apologized, but I had to go in a different direction if I was going to stay sober. Later, I met my best friend from my childhood in my folks’ driveway and told him the same thing. I couldn’t hang out with drinking friends anymore. No more ex-girlfriends, no more old friends, no more old faces, no more old places.
If you’ve read any of my recovery posts, you already know it was well worth a few burnt bridges.
All over 1-1/2 O’Doul’s near beers. Near beer, near death as they say. In my case, that’s literally how it worked. I didn’t want to be any nearer.
So, here comes a new near beer, this time 0.0% alcohol by volume. No alcohol. The real question is this, can a recovering alcoholic now safely imbibe?! Without actually imbibing?! No more infinitesimal amounts of alcohol.
I know the answer for me; I didn’t drink for the taste; I drank for affect… and therein lies the rub.
I have no fear of honesty in acknowledging who or what I am; a near beer is a lose-lose proposition for a drinker like me. There is no way to win:
- On one hand, let’s just say I try a near beer. Within a week of drinking a six-pack of near beers a night, I’m back out, pounding down the real beers. To be clear, I’m 98% sure this is the way it would go. Six months later, the house is gone, my car is gone, my career is “poof”, right into thin air. My wife left after two weeks, with the kids, which was the agreed remedy to relapse. It gutted me and touched off a spiral of depravity because I found out I really can’t live without my wife and kids. I’m dead one to six years later. One year would be a bullet, six would be liver failure. I die alone and afraid, with nothing. Misery isn’t a strong enough word to describe my world as an alcoholic. Come to think of it, it’d be the six year option, I’m too big a sissy for the bullet.
- On the other hand, let’s just say I try that near beer and I’m not impressed. I buy a six-pack and four sit in the fridge till summer time. After mowing the lawn, I decide to crack one open. Then another. The last two sit in the fridge for another month. Keep in mind, this is the 2% option… I decide after a particularly hot Tuesday night club ride to polish off the last two. I’ve got this licked! I must have changed! Right? You with me still? How long is it before I think, “well, if I did that well with near beers, maybe I can handle the real thing? Six months later, the house is gone, my car is gone, my career is “poof”, right into thin air. My wife left after two weeks, with the kids, which was the agreed remedy to relapse. It gutted me and touched off a spiral of depravity because I found out I really can’t live without my wife and kids. I’m dead six years later after my liver failed. I die alone and afraid, with nothing. Misery isn’t a strong enough word to describe my world as an alcoholic.
Lose – Lose. There’s no way I win by drinking a near beer. Near beers are also referred to as “non-alcoholic” beer.
Another, more prescient way to look at it; near beer isn’t for alcoholics.
You go ahead and tempt fate. I’m good.
And you can forget your cycling “career” too
Actually, I’ll still need my bikes… after they take my car and license, that’ll be the only way I can get around! LMAO!
When my husband quit drinking for ten years, he did drink O’doul’s but he’s not an alcoholic, he just drinks too much for my taste but it did appear to satisfy him. It wasn’t hard for him because we lived in the south and drinking is not the norm there. Once we moved to California, where drinking is, he quit his quitting. I had wondered though about the near beers for real alcoholics. I discovered the other day that there’s also a 0% alcohol wine. Because of my niece, I thought of the possibility of substituting, but caught myself thinking how it would be akin to playing with fire. With sugar (my addiction) it’s all or nothing and I know it, so I get it. It seems addictions are just that and I hate that her “Hollywood” doctors put her on meds to ween her but it doesn’t work and she keeps falling back all the time.
They’ve learned a lot since the good old days about DT’s and withdrawals, though. I think the Hollywood types go too far, and the way I did it SUCKED… maybe a happy medium. Anyway, it had to have been at least eight years before I did the sparkling grape juice on New Year’s. I still have to be careful with that, though. There are years I skip it because I’m just not feeling fit for it. I can tell you this, your niece is lucky to have an aunt who cares as much as you do.
I’m lucky to have her and someone like you to talk to about it.
Too kind. Thank you.
Non-alcoholic beer is for non-alcoholics
Since you’ve already found a solution–abstinence-there is no need to look for another one. You spelled it out completely and you’re right. There is no winning in near beer.
It’s of zero use, but non-alcoholic beer doesn’t even taste particularly good.
It doesn’t, either, does it?!
Great post and very interesting, also very honest. I have never realised things work this way. Keep it up man and stay strong!
Thank you! I’ll give it my best.
Years ago I had a landlord who was in recovery. Every time he came to the house to fix or check on anything he should guzzle down a six pack of that stuff.
My room mates and I didn’t think that looked like a good idea, but we were his tenants and why piss him off needlessly?
It’s been over 25 years, no idea how things turned out, but you give me a pretty good idea of how it probably turned out.
Yep. I never guzzled six of ANYTHING else but alcohol. Neither did he, sounds like. Too bad.
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