Why don’t you just drink sparkling water?
What’s the point?
Isn’t it a waste of money?
Aren’t you just replacing one habit with another?
These are all questions that come up when you are choosing non alcoholic drinks options over alcoholic. And not just questions from others; these are questions I have also asked myself. Often.
Technically yes, if you were to drink sparkling water you would get the same net effect as drinking a $25 bottle of non-alcoholic wine. But for me (and clearly for you too as the non-acl industry is BOOMING) this runs a lot deeper than this net effect.
I am going to boldly say here that I would not have had so much success with my sobriety if not for non-alcoholic drinks.
Making the radical decision to stop drinking in a culture OBSESSED with normalising the over consumption of alcohol is not an EASY choice. It is not all sunshine and rainbows, pink clouds and smooth sailing. No. You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, feel all the feels, deal with things you have been using alcohol to repress for YEARS. Choosing a life without alcohol is in a way a rebirth. You have to find new ways of dealing with stress, you need to learn how to socialise properly, you have to work on your confidence, it doesn’t magically appear overnight. I truly felt an instant snap back to my 15 year old self. I felt like an awkward, shy teenager who needed a boost of confidence.
When I stopped drinking, I was not prepared to forego my social life, lay low and play it safe. No, nothing changed for me once I went alcohol free (except there were less fights and hospital visits). If anything, I felt freedom from all of the guilt and I was out socialising MORE often. Though challenging, the thing that saw me through this period of transition and growth was non-alc.
- Nothing hits thirst on a hot sunny day like an icey cool beer.
- Nothing says celebration like the popping of a champagne cork.
- Nothing beats a glass of rich red with the perfect meal.
And thanks to the incredible folks who are making fabulous non-alcoholic beverages, I didn’t have to leave behind any of those favoured experiences. In fact, I can relish in them more because I am present and not focused on where my next drink it is coming from. I get to enjoy all the things about drinking we are so familiar with; taste, social inclusion, and ritual without any of the nasty side effects.
I do acknowledge here that non-alcoholic drinks (particularly those that seek to replicate an alcoholic drink) are not for everyone. For those fresh to sobriety, they may need to be approached with caution. They can in fact be triggering rather than helpful. This is something to always bear in mind.
But for me, alcohol free drinks have been a total safety net. At first, they felt like a suit of armour, there to help defend me from all the terrifying socialising. Now they are a familiar, reliable old friend. I can still turn up for dinner, bottle of red wine in hand. Nothing has changed, yet everything has changed.