I think it was a solid 9 months before Rocky drank his first non-alcoholic beer. We discussed him drinking them. I was scared. Really scared. More like terrified. It was that feeling that buzzes through your bones, from your fingertips to your toes, and swirls in the pit of your tummy telling you, "NO NO NO."
Non-alcoholic beers still have a very small percentage of alcohol in them. I know not only from the percentage count on the can, but because my own clean system can totally get a buzz from drinking one. What a tease for an alcoholic to feel that slight buzz! And because it's only a slight buzz, what's stopping him from thinking that because he can control that slight buzz, that quite possibly he can control a REAL beer.
The first non-alcoholic beer he brought home was an O'Douls. This was on the advice from a fellow non-drinker: his coping mechanism. I don't feel like it's a coping mechanism, I feel like it's a cop out. Russian roulette. Sticking a quarter in the slot machine...the casino ALWAYS wins.
I think drank 6 that night.
I was pissed.
His eyes were red.
He was obviously intoxicated.
After 2 days, the O'douls ran out.
Once the cloud was lifted, Rocky had his own realization - he was scared. He realized he was getting buzzed off these non-alcoholic beers. He couldn't stop himself, and he couldn't admit it to me. Even when the sugary substitutes were giving him headaches, he still drank on.
A month or so went by and he thought about giving those damned drinks a try again. *sigh* Again, I voiced my concern without an argument. Let him know my fears. He listened and heard me, and put the card of broken promises out on the table. That's all addicts deal in, broken promises.
This time he came home with Old Milwaukee non-alcoholics beer. Ironically, he was more concerned about getting a headache. And he drank 2.
He drank 2 every night until the 12 pack was gone. In my head, I hoorah'd a small victory. It took him almost an entire week to drink that damn 12 pack, and when it was gone, it was gone. He didn't pick up more on his way home from work. It was gone for such a while that I couldn't even remember when he picked another pack up.
Rocky does drink those stupid beers here and there. He takes them with him to outings where people are drinking, and he never drinks more than 2 - even when he went on a hunting trip and bought a 24 pack. He came home with 18. Ironically, no matter the brand - they give him a headache after 2. So that's all he can stomach.
The only way I think he'll stop drinking non-alcoholic beers is if he realizes the headaches hurt more than his want for the taste, or for that tiny buzz. For now, he's still a true addict - going back to those beers, giving himself a headache, and then going back for more.
Crossing my fingers that one day he'll get it. For now we deal in small victories, and I remind myself that recovery is never-ending.