Non-Alcoholic Drinks: Safe for Adolescent Sipping?

Non-alcoholic beer. Virgin drinks. Mocktails. These libation alternatives may seem to offer safe options for college students and other adolescents, but are they really harmless? Without the alcohol content, you could argue they provide a “safer” alcohol-free choice for adolescents struggling with sobriety, but this argument fails to capture the whole scenario.

Now pay attention, parents...you'll want to remember the non-alcoholic details below.

Don’t Pull the Trigger

The big risk with adolescents consuming non-alcoholic drinks is that they can trigger cravings for the real alcoholic versions. After all, a non-alcoholic beer still tastes like beer. One study shows the taste, smell and action of drinking can drive people back to previous unhealthy behaviors.

It takes a substantial amount of effort to get clean and live a sober life, so why take the chance?

The Drink is Never Worth It

“But it helps me fit in.” “But I like the taste.” “But I miss drinking, and this lets me do it safely.”

Each of the above excuses can quickly lead to relapse. Remember, addiction is more than physical - it’s also psychological. Just because students aren’t putting real alcohol into their bodies doesn’t mean they aren’t feeding an addiction.

By consuming non-alcoholic drinks to “fit in,” young adults teeter on the edge of an alcohol-fueled relapse as a means to cope with social situations. Mocktails can even trigger cravings students fail to achieve with non-alcoholic drinks.

Just Choose a Different Beverage

In recovery, it pays to be smart - and that includes dodging the risks brought on by non-alcoholic drinks. Luckily, adolescents can easily turn to healthier options that “wet the whistle.”

As a parent, staying informed is a must. If your son or daughter is drinking non-alcoholic beverages, sit them down and provide them with suitable alternative drinks. Here's a few of those beverage ideas to get you started:

  • Tea: Versatile, natural and aromatic, this can be enjoyed hot or cold, in a wide variety of flavors.
  • Soda: While not the healthiest choice due to sugar and additives, soda also offers a wide variety of tasty options.
  • Juice: Anything from citric to sweet, juices offer an alcohol-free option that supply vitamins our bodies need.
  • Water: Of course, water is the healthiest option. It can be dressed up with lemon or cucumber.
  • Sparkling Water: If standard H2O is just too plain for you, try livening it up a bit with some carbonation and flavor. Sparkling water still hydrates with zero calories, but it has a little more zing.

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