Now this is a controversial point. There are two schools of thought with this. The first being that alcohol-free (AF) drinks are simply replacing alcohol, so you are simply replacing one drink with another and never get used to life without wanting alcohol. The second school of thought is that AF drinks are an incredibly useful tool to help you deal with cravings and slowly wean you off needing alcohol.
From the title, you can guess what school I go to!
I genuinely do not believe I would have stayed sober if it weren’t for AF drinks. In the very early days of sobriety I would have the most awful cravings that made me want to scream and feel like I wanted to rip my skin off. I didn’t drink AF in the first few weeks. I didn’t see the point. I remembered from pregnancy there was one white, one red and one lager in the AF section and they were all rank. So when I went to Tesco’s and discovered the vast array of AF drinks that are now on offer I decided to try a few AF lagers. They changed the game for me and my cravings.
If I had a craving, I would open the fridge and have an AF lager. By the time I had finished that drink I had tricked my body into thinking it had had alcohol and I was back to normal. Then slowly, as the months progressed, the cravings became less frequent and less intense.
Imagine you are on an assault course. One of the obstacles is a river (the craving). You can either go through the river and get soaking wet, or you can use the rope swing (AF drinks) to help you across. If you use the rope swing (AF Drinks), you will still hit the water, but you won’t get as soaked as if you were to walk straight through it. When you quit alcohol, you have to go through the cravings, there’s no avoiding them. But AF drinks make them a hell of a lot easier to manage.
Now, if I reach for an AF drink, it’s not because I want to feel like I’m having an alcoholic drink. It’s because I genuinely enjoy them and feel very much the same about them as I do about a fancy tonic water. In the beginning they are a replacement for alcohol, straight up. But if they can help get you through those first few months, they can then transition to being a drink like any other.