Do mocktails really help you drink less alcohol?


The popularity of mocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages has skyrocketed in America. But can alcohol-free beer, zero-proof wine, and fake cocktails really help you consume less alcohol?

The answer depends on your drinking habits. Health experts say those trying to cut back on alcohol or stay sober for a dry January may find it helpful to have a non-alcoholic mimosa or fake mai tai when socializing.

However, for those with moderate-to-severe Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) (defined by the National Institutes of Health as an inability to “stop or control alcohol use” despite results) , these non-alcoholic beverages are generally not recommended. Not craving alcohol, but craving it.

George Kueb, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said, “Fundamentally, it’s really no. The cues produced by mocktails can ’cause relapse and re-engagement of excessive drinking.'” There is a nature.

Made to taste just like the real thing

Mocktails are becoming more sophisticated as marketers respond to rising demand and more people experiment with sober living during events like Dry January and Sober October.

Popular DC restaurant Ted’s Bulletin has added four mocktails to its menu featuring “zero-proof” rum, tequila, whiskey and gin. “Garden Surprise” uses Ritual Gin Substitute, Lime, Mint, Ginger and Mellow Cucumber and Mai Tai Substitute called “Rum that Ran” uses Ritual’s Rum Substitute, Orge Syrup, Lime and Pineapple. Use the.

Alcohol-free beverages are useful for people who do not want to drink alcohol because they are pregnant, taking certain medications, do not like alcohol, or have decided to drink less.

With these non-alcoholic alternatives, you can have a mocktail margarita with chips and salsa without waking up with a raging headache the next morning. Also, for some people, drinking a glass of non-alcoholic beer or alcohol-free wine helps relieve social pressure when everyone else in the party has a glass or cup.

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“It’s great for people who don’t have an alcohol use disorder,” said Tim Brennan, chief of clinical services at the Mount Sinai Health System Addiction Institute. “For those looking to reduce the negative effects of alcohol, such as headaches, fatigue, morning sickness and mild hangovers, it’s really great to have more options.”

Mocktails are delicious, but how useful are they?

Two studies of households in Spain and the UK found that the introduction of alcohol-free or low-alcohol options slightly reduced consumer drinking. But Jürgen Röhm, a professor and senior scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said the findings in the UK did not represent a “mass movement” of some sort. , led to small but significant reductions in alcohol consumption in some households, says Rehm.

“Overall, I drink less, but not dramatically,” Rehm said. “It helped a little.”

Still, public health experts say a decline in alcohol consumption is a good thing. reached. And the World Health Organization has concluded that there is no “safe amount” of alcohol to consume.

“When you stop drinking or cut back and you feel better, listen to your body because it’s telling you something,” Kueb said. “I think that’s the conclusion.”

Less alcohol means more sugar

Switching to certain non-alcoholic beverages also risks exchanging alcohol for sugar.

Both beer and wine tend to be low in sugar due to the fermentation process. However, if you check the nutrition label on a can of non-alcoholic beer, you may find sugar. I’m here. Some non-alcoholic beers have much less. Heineken’s standard beer contains no sugar, and the non-alcoholic version he has 1.3 grams of sugar.

Regular cocktails contain a lot of sugar anyway, but mocktails are alcohol-free, so drinking extra can increase your sugar consumption.

Ashley Gearhart, an associate professor at the University of Michigan who studies the science of food and addiction, says cravings for both sugar and alcohol depend on the same circuits in the brain. She said swapping alcohol for sugar is not a “zero risk” proposition. This is because a diet rich in processed drinks high in sugar and foods low in nutrients can also lead to other health risks.

“Just because it’s alcohol-free doesn’t mean it’s a card that will get you out of jail,” says Gearhardt. “People should really think about what to replace alcohol with.”

How to support your sober friends when everyone is drinking

Mocktails are not a good option for many with AUD

For someone recovering from AUD, the smells, sounds, and actions associated with breaking a can of alcohol-free beer or wine can be too stimulating, Brennan said.

He warned against drinking mocktails or other drinks that are supposed to mimic gin, bourbon, or other alcoholic beverages. It is important to know that non-sugar beers usually contain small amounts of alcohol.

“People with alcohol use disorders who start drinking alcohol-free beer are rapidly on the road to relapse,” Brennan said. am.”

Many people with AUD choose seltzer on ice with a lime wedge to hold on to at social gatherings. , says it’s just part of being sober.

“This is just the beginning of the considerations,” says Karpyak. “It’s certainly important to make decisions about this small part, but it may or may not be enough to reach your goals.”

According to Koob, it’s like walking by a green Starbucks sign and thinking of coffee. For those recovering from AUD, walking past a bar or sipping a mocktail can be a cue for alcohol cravings.

Paul Linde, clinical supervisor at Ria Health, a telemedicine program to help people drink less, sees mocktails as a short-term solution, but it still requires “long-term behavior change.” am. He doesn’t want mocktails to be seen as a “medicine” for people who want to cut back on their drinking.

“It’s a good start, but really just the start,” Linde said. “I would like to think more about other necessary behavioral changes.”

“Adaptogenic” drinks advertise a good time without alcohol. Please read this before swallowing.

Hossia Keene, director of outpatient services at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Bellevue, Wash., said mocktails might be a reasonable option for those who are “pretty solid in recovery.”

But she suggests that anyone thinking of ordering a mocktail ask themselves: Or does that drink sound good?

“They will be quite different experiences,” Keane said.

If the mocktail only serves as a reminder of the alcohol you’re not drinking, Keane says you want to have a conversation with that person beforehand to make sure their body is ready to recognize the craving. I did. Alcohol.

“I don’t think these drinks will go away,” Keen said. “I would like someone to put a lot of the tools in place before testing anything that jeopardizes established abstinence.”

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