Audio: Fake Cocaine

This is Sober Podcast Episode #181 for my weekly sober podcast series.

My husband asks, why does NA beer exist? So that they can still sell you something? As we discussed it further, he asked about the existence of fake cocaine (like, does it exist). And do we really drink to ‘fit in’, as if drinking is some big popularity contest in junior high school. “You can’t need to fit in – so much – that you give up what’s best for you.” If you are not long-term sober, and you’re drinking fake beer, this might be a good audio to listen to more than once.

Below i’ve posted a short extract from this longer audio (the complete podcast is 25 minutes long).

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment – what do you hear in this audio? Can you rephrase it in your own words? hugs from me


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I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • The last time I went for an extended period without alcohol I did drink de-alcoholised wine. After they have removed the alcohol they add grape juice to put some flavour back in, but it just tastes like grape juice. This time my favourite after-work, pre-dinner drink is sparkling mineral water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and the juice of half a lemon. So good, so refreshing!
    These posts have made me think that by drinking the fake wine, like i used to, I may have just been biding my time until i could drink real wine again, which sort of defeats the purpose of being alcohol free. Thanks for your insights

  • So you’re asking, why would someone really want to drink a fake beer or fake wine – is it because they want to fit in? And if so, why do they want to fit in? Is it their inner gremlin (Wolfe?) that is actually trying to keep them tied into the drinking thing? The wine glass isn’t really sophisticated is it? (It feels sophisticated in the hand, swirling the water around (like a child pretending to be an adult)). It really is just marketing isn’t it – it isn’t real. …In the past when I was sober, I did feel sometimes that waiters or waitresses seemed judgy or irritated that we weren’t ordering alcohol – but I guess that’s a different topic… -T

  • 1. Fake Beer, like O’Doul’s here in the USA (West), actually has a small amount of alcohol in it. So, I’m thinking that someone with a drinking problem who starts on Fake Beer is likely to get a WTF attitude after sucking down a little Fake Beer & switch to regular beer.
    2. I have (personally) known GPs who, when told by a patient that there is a drinking problem, advise said boozer patient to switch to Fake Beer because it has less alcohol. This is akin to telling said boozer patient to moderate by having one glass of wine with dinner and to avoid hard liquor drinks….which has also been advised by a couple of GPs.

  • Well I agree that I drank for the buzz!
    On the other hand I like fancy glasses and little limoges dessert plates that I find at yard sales. I often put my substitute drink in a fancy glass.

    My late husband was 20+ years sober and sometimes drank NA beer especially after mowing the lawn.

    I will have to think more about this as I don’t even have 100 days.

  • We drink for the buzz to blot our feelings or whatever we are running from or trying to cope. Not the taste. Well for me sometimes the taste on a hot day in OZ but fake beer …..nooooooo. It does nothing. Fancy sophisticaed glasses. Sometimes they help. But just to make me feel special!!! Noone else. No to pretend its wine either. Its just my glass. Like my favourite cup for tea. A tool in my sober tool box

  • This is so true! I am actually on attempt 2 over the past 2 weeks of sober living. After my last binge I went to the grocery store and bought NA beer, patting my self on the back, thinking “look NA beer!! I can do it!” and you know what? It’s gross and all it makes me want is a real beer…and have you seen the calories?! If I’m not drinking it to get get drunk why would I drink it?? I don’t even drink pop! It is total marketing. A ploy for me to think there is something wrong with me not drinking when the real crime here is having to justify not drinking in the first place, and “fitting in” with fake beer.

    Your site here is amazing and has really helped me “sober tool up” on attempt 2. I didn’t even know sober blogs and podcasts existed!


  • Animals don’t agonise over belief systems, they just know. A cat won’t eat a fake fish. Ants won’t gather around fake food. Why would I drink a fake champagne in a flute? To look like an idiot? Do I want the buzz? No! I want the ‘off switch.’ I am finding lots to do when I am still ‘on’ and don’t worry about turning myself off until bedtime provides the true ‘off’ switch. The animals are laughing (I live in land of kookaburras). So I raise my beautiful tea cup to that which is real.

  • Not a fan of NA beer because most of the time, it contains alcohol and that’s a huge bummer already! I’m not talking about tiny traces of alcohol left, swimming in the glass, I’m talking about alcohol, the real kind – sort of like shandy, something like “less than 1 or 2%” (that’s what they write on the bottles anyway). I’ve had NA beer in the past (the 0.0% type) but that feels like drinking lemonade so I just stick with the real stuff, real lemonade! No need to get confused, you’re right. No desire to wear slippery shoes when it’s raining outside, would rather keep my big boots on so I don’t fall. Much, much safer.

  • I used to get so upset when servers/bartenders would put my non-alcoholic beverage in a tall glass. I started asking for a short glass with lime and a straw so it “look like” a vodka/soda. Even my SIL said over the weekend “oh, why don’t you put that in a wine glass”. My first thought was “why, what’s the point”? I was quite pleased with my reaction. I’m slowly but surely beginning to live in my truth and accept that this is my journey. For me, it doesn’t make sense. Not to mention I’m newly sober and drinking fake anything would allow for wolfie to mess with my thoughts!

  • I listened to this clip about 5 times. I love it and the biggest take away for me is to be vigilant about the wolfie voice telling me that I’m missing out or that I need something outside of me to be something else. And wolfie gets all kinds of encouragement from outside sources that want to take my money and make me miserable. Fuck you marketing and fuck you, wolfie. I am enough just as I am. I am not lacking. I am enough.

  • Maybe you are right. A cold beer on a hot day to quench the thirst? Well, have you tried a cold G2 (Gatorade) on a hot day? Now that quenches the thirst. I have to agree; it’s an excuse to get the buzz. Julie-Joy’s DAD – Day 1,107.

  • This shows we are all individual. I did drink beer for the taste, the first one anyway, nothing tastes like a Guinness! So, for a while I did drink the fake beer that faintly resembles Guinness. And I stopped at one because yeah right, no buzz. That got me through the first year. Now, at 2 1/2 years, I no longer need it. I considered it a crutch or a sober tool.

    • Indeed. very individual comments here. But one theme i see in a few comments and i completely agree … after a while we don’t give a shit about fitting in.

      in fact last weekend i was out with a gang of folks and ordered an NA beer just to be different. no glass. I parked my bottle in the middle of the table. People asked me what it was. I told them. I didn’t explain why beyond a single sentence “I quit drinking last year.” End of story.

  • Interesting… I don’t think for me it was about “fitting in” so much as not being noticed. Hmm, perhaps that is the same thing. I didn’t want to have a discussion with everyone or feel the need to explain each time someone came around with a top up or “Can I get you a glass of wine”? These were early days though… now I don’t give a shit. But I do like to have sparkling water or tonic and cranberry in a nice glass with a stem while at gatherings or a special dinner with my husband (who is a normie but doesn’t drink). I just don’t call it a wine glass because yes, that is just marketing. Never liked fake wine and never drank much beer so don’t see the point in drinking either and I am coming up 4 years sober. Marketing is such a powerful tool… I have a special coffee cup and a special water glass that make me feel good. Great audio Belle!

  • This is a tricky one. I think consuming NA drinks or using a different glass can be a trick we are trying to play on wolfie to not feel deprived. However, it can easily backfire. Listening to the worry about fitting in made me realize that by not trying to camouflage ourselves as drinking alcohol, we could unknowingly be a support for others in our social setting that are struggling.

  • I went to a wedding shower at a pub last night, in a private room though. So I’m feeling conspicuous when the lady beside me orders wine. I order a NA beer. Tasted like crap because there’s no alcohol in it. I look around, every other person is drinking tea, coffee or water. And I realize, not for the first time, that it’s not all about the booze for most people……. I’d have been so much happier with a glass of something like tonic water that wasn’t impersonating booze….

  • I agreed with some of your message but not all of it. I truly enjoy the taste of beer and I miss it, especially with food. I’ve mostly substituted mineral water to provide the “crisp clear …, etc.” that beer once provided. But sometimes have non alcoholic beer.

    I agree that messaging, marketing, and peer pressure contribute to the desire to have a fake beer. Initially for me it wasn’t exactly about fitting in. It was to avoid questions. (another form of fitting in). But that’s long past. I’m very comfortable with my status as a non drinker now.

    I also agree that my brain is trying to recover something (a behavior, a comfort zone) that alcohol provided. And that is something I struggle with. I ask myself “why am i making this substitution? just move on with life and all the benefits being sober brings.”

    You’re comment about the fancy glass really stuck me though. I do that. A fancy glass is part of what makes a mineral water “special” for me.

    But I’m really questioning that now. Especially I am wondering what kind of role model I’m setting for my kids. Like: I’m still making a ritual out of drinking. Even if it’s non alcoholic. I’m clearly sending the message that there is something sophisticated about having a mineral water in a wine glass with a slice of lime.

    Too much ritual. Too much attention being focused on it.

    Thanks for causing me to pause and question myself. That’s always a good place to begin to grow.

  • 100% true! I tried the fake wine approach when I was pregnant with my last child and all it did was make me crave real wine more and feel deprived. And that was long before my drinking became a real problem (my baby is 22 years old now).
    Knowing what I have learned here, I can see that this was a clear sign that I had a problem all the way back then, but I definitely didn’t recognize it then (or didn’t want to recognize it…).

  • At almost 4 years sober I am on the opposite side. While first getting sober I needed the ritual of a fancy glass with tonic and lime instead of wine and I had an occasional fake beer ( bet you know what country I live in now) after mowing the lawn or on a hot day. I think alcohol is tasteless in beer anyway and I wasn’t after a buzz just a thirst quencher. I tried fake wine, YUK, I’m not a grape juice fan. But to be honest I was drinking so much before I quit that my taste buds we’re shot, two sips of wine and I couldn’t taste a thing I just guzzled out of habit. Anyway, for me the glass and the substitutes were not a trigger once I decided I wanted to live instead of drown in a bottle.

  • Don’t hesitate to be honest with yourself. You give up drinking for YOU. Not to fit in. Don’t try to masquerade it with something not real and not you.

  • Never caught on to the NA drinks cause as you say Belle, we drink for the buzz not for the taste or we would stop at one. However, drinking from a nice glass or eating your meal on your fancy china and using your best flatware, to me, is a nice treat. Having said that, when I am not drinking alcohol, I don’t substitute a wine glass to drink my water, juice, ginger ale, etc. BUT, every now and then I WILL use a different shaped glass for my drink simply because it is nice and I like it.
    More importantly, what hit home for me today is that I have brainwashed myself into believing I need to fit in. And quite frankly, that is stupid. To continue to drink for the sake of fitting in with my boozing family (who by the way, don’t seem to understand any of my struggles but will judge if I get drunk on this addictive substance, saddens me deeply…but I digress).
    I am still struggling but I am not giving up and starting to care less and less about fitting in.

  • This one was confusing for me – I related less than to other audios and I guess that is the way it is – some ideas resonate more than others. I understood the part about the fancy glass, which I did indeed enjoy as a “treat” in the evenings at home, along with the wine inside. I’ve not tried fake alcohol and am an introverted homebody who rarely socialized in settings where alcohol is served (and I pretty much accepted that I don’t “fit in” in junior high) so I suppose I’ve been lucky, so far, in avoiding some of the problems this audio refers to.

  • I fell for that sophisticated crap!! I thought I was so grown up, put together, classy with my wine in a fancy glass. “Life styles of the rich and famous”!
    I bought into that charade.
    No more. I see it now for the lie it is. I’m going to be the sophisticated one! Not my glass or my drink. Me, walking tall and proud, my head held high. Sober me, I rock, I’m sophisticated!!

  • The wolfie voice and mentality is cunning. Not only does the voice apply to drinking alcohol but to drinking non-alcoholic beverages. It’s like wolfie taking the back door approach to get back in, “since I am not making any headway getting you to drink, let’s start with something that looks like a drink or served in a glass that looks like you are drinking alcohol and work from there ”
    Do people really care what you drink?Not really, even though wolfie will tell you they do. Does it matter what ” type” of glass you are drinking from? No. But wolfie will tell you it matters. ” Fake” substitutes are really just a ploy to suck you in to believing that you are missing out and alcohol is so important in our society that you must pretend so you can blend in.
    Nice try wolfie, but that’s bullshit.

  • I have never desired to drink non alcoholic beer or wine or use the appropriate cocktail glass for my faux drink when out in public. I will not “drink and drive” so alcohol is never an option. Now when I get home, that’s a whole other scenario….! This audio clip has certainly opened my eyes!

  • I would not waste my time with na beer or drinking out of a fancy glass. My brain is working hard enough just seeing a TV show with people drinking booze and Wolfie showing up in my brain. Put gas in the car not into my body. Teri day 9

  • Totally agree 100%. The last time I gave up wine, I substituted NA beer. I hate beer but I did it to fit in withe my drinking crowd. I continued to go to parties, wine tastings, back porches and all those drinking places and consumed NA beer or water in a wine glass. I spent more time coordinating my NA beer etc, than working on sobriety. Did it work? Nope
    This time I did not substitute fancy wine glasses with water or NA beer or wine because I didn’t want to trick my wolfie brain and then make her mad cause I lied. So far so good. I don’t think about drinking all the time. Hmmm good name for a book! lol