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Are Mocktails OK in Recovery?

Mocktails–or cocktails with no alcohol–have long been a default among designated drivers and teens who get carded. They are tasty beverages you can sip on and not feel too out of place for not drinking. Are they also a good option for recovering alcoholics?

As with so many aspects of recovery, whether mocktails are safe or not depends on the individual. It pays to know your triggers. While there is no alcohol in a mocktail, it still has several elements strongly associated with drinking. There is the smell of other ingredients, which is perhaps the most powerful trigger there is, aside from the smell of alcohol itself. If you used to drink a lot of bloody marys, for example, think of how little spicy tomato juice with a celery stalk differs in smell from a bloody mary. And mocktails are usually served in the same glass as a regular cocktail.

There is also the behavior associated with drinking. Many people have almost ritualized drinking behavior. How many times have you seen someone stir a drink with the cocktail straw, then bend the straw over the rim of the glass while taking a sip? Finally, if you are having a mocktail, you are probably having it at a bar or club among people who are drinking. All of these things–smell, glass, ritual, people, environment–are possible triggers, each of which might be dangerous in itself.

Another consideration is that mocktails often have a lot of sugar. It’s not as though a cocktail becomes healthy when you remove the alcohol–with the possible exception of bloody marys. Most cocktails have juice or sugar in them–in fact, that’s all they have in them. With little incentive to pace yourself, you could drink hundreds of calories in a short time. That’s unhealthy for anyone, but it’s a particular concern for recovering alcoholics, who may have volatile blood sugar levels and are prone to developing a replacement addiction–in this case, sugar.

While having a mocktail is probably not a good idea for most recovering alcoholics, everyone is different. If you are stable in recovery, you might find yourself in a situation where a mocktail is a safe alternative. Also, it’s not entirely clear where the line is between a mocktail and a fruity summer drink. If a drink doesn’t remind you at all of an old standby, there’s not much chance it will be a trigger. As always, take reasonable precautions and if you aren’t sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.