AF drinks (again)

I’ve made it quite clear throughout my blog posts that I’m a fan of alcohol free drinks and I’m well aware they’re not for everyone. Every time I post about them I get quite a lot of messages from people saying they don’t trust them or telling me to be careful as AF drinks can lead to relapse because they taste similar to the ‘real thing’ and can cause triggers. As I’ve said before I am in no way whatsoever qualified in alcohol recovery and everything mentioned in this blog are my thoughts and experiences. I can only speak for myself. When I decided to get sober in October ’17 I stayed away from pubs, bars, events, basically any venue that sold alcohol. I lived like a hermit for about 2 months. I didn’t even consider drinking alcohol free drinks because when I mentioned it at my SMART Recovery meeting the lovely people did say that AF drinks can sometimes lead to relapse and I was put off straight away. It was never a problem until Christmas Day and I’m still not really sure why. Maybe because I wanted to fit in, or still be able to enjoy a beer, I don’t know. I’ve spoken about this before so I’m sorry to repeat myself but I feel it needs to be shared again. I had a slight melt down and really needed to do something or the day was potentially ruined. I had planned to go to visit my family and I knew there would be lots of alcohol around, after all it was Christmas. I suggested to my mum that I could get some AF beers and just try one at home before committing to drinking them for the rest of the day. If I had even the slightest thought about drinking alcohol then I would stop straight away and change my plans. I was absolutely gobsmacked that they tasted just like the alcohol version. Well they did to me anyway. Whether this was because I stayed away from AF drinks for the first 2 months I don’t know. I don’t actually remember what an alcoholic beer tastes like anymore and I have no intention of finding out. But, I realised if I could have these AF beers I’d be absolutely fine wherever I am. I was really really chuffed that I’d tried them and I’ve been drinking them on a regular basis ever since. I have them when I’m out with friends, I take them with me when I’m visiting people who I know drink at home and I also have them at my own home. They’re really not a problem for me and I enjoy having them because I still feel like I’m having a beer which I enjoy. My problem wasn’t craving alcohol. My problem was never knowing when to stop and this started from a very early age. I was a typical binge drinker. I started drinking regularly when I was about 15. I would go to the local park with friends (without my parents consent) in the same way a lot of people start experimenting with drink. I don’t think I’ve ever touched 20/20 or Strongbow since! I was always an anxious kid for as long as I can remember and I quickly realised that alcohol would take these feelings away and within an hour I would start to feel more relaxed than I ever had been. That was the start of a very slippery slope into anxiety, depression, binge drinking and a problem with alcohol.

I understand why people are wary of AF drinks and I would never encourage anyone with a drink problem to try them. I just talk about my experience with them and how they’ve helped me. I have friends who absolutely don’t want to give them a go because they’re worried about relapse and I completely understand that. Everybody’s recovery is different and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I think the reason why AF drinks work for me is because I like the taste and I never did crave alcohol. I don’t refer to myself as an alcoholic and I don’t think I ever was addicted to alcohol, however I was addicted to the feeling it gave me and I did get into the habit of drinking to deal with my emotions. Maybe some experts would say I’ve got that completely wrong and I’m open to discussion about it but I’m still trying to figure out how my drinking problem worked and that’s the point I’m up to at the moment.

A lot of people also say that alcohol free drinks are a bad idea because they still contain alcohol. Yes, some of them do but the UK law states that if the drink contains no more than 0.05% abv. then it is classed as alcohol free. Some people get confused with this and think that it would go against staying sober. It doesn’t because there’s as much alcohol content in orange juice or the vinegar on your chips! To get the same affect from one bottle of regular alcoholic beer you would have to drink approx. 9 bottles of alcohol free beer.

So, as I said before, alcohol free drinks aren’t for everyone but I can 100% guarantee that if they didn’t exist I would not be sober today or writing this blog.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a fabulous week 🙂

Claire xx

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