What to drink when you’re not drinking

A big question I had when I was in early recovery and a question I have had many many times since from other people is ‘what do you drink now?’

The simple answer is anything non-alcoholic. But it isn’t really that simple when you are in early sobriety, we like to overcomplicate after all.

In the early days in rehab I must have drank at least 8 cups of coffee a day (this is most likely the reason why not all rehabs allow coffee machines – true story). I needed a stimulant, something to keep me going – I am not entirely sure why I needed this because in the later stage of my addiction all I did was drink to pass out, NOT drink to be stimulated and have the time of my life. Anywho, stimulation is what I craved.

A few months after rehab, once I felt stable enough to go to social events I clung to cans of Redbull for dear life – like they would take the social fear away and replace my beloved booze and not make me edgy as f*ck and give me a slight tick.

After the Redbull phase (about 9 months in) I discovered non-alcoholic substitutes, non-alc beer, mocktails, non-alc wine… now the recovery world is very divided by these substitutes, some say you are just asking for trouble drinking these and some swear by them. I generally only drink replacements now on certain occasions, not too often and I make sure I am true to myself, stick to what I genuinely enjoy and to drinks that don’t trigger any sort of sensation or emotion. The last thing I want to be doing is replacing the feeling I got from alcohol with something else.

I had an experience during my first NYE in sobriety, I was on a boat in Sydney harbour (lucky me!!!) and I was kindly given some non-alcoholic Champagne which I thought would be perfect to see in the New Year. But bubbles had always been my drink of choice, and this particular brand was way too much like the real thing for me. I had to check the label 3 times and in the end decided to drink water instead – it wasn’t worth the risk and had already set my brain off thinking about alcohol. So I understand why people steer clear of these substitutes. But I have also come across some great drinks I thoroughly enjoy.


A few that I love;

  • Seedlip
  • Square root
  • Kolibri drinks
  • San Miguel 0
  • Fever tree

None of these are high in sugar and none of them trigger any thought of an alcoholic drink (for me – I cannot speak for anyone else). But to be honest I tend to drink water more than anything.

I went through a stage of ordering water when I was out of at parties but asking for a ‘nice glass’ so I could feel like I was truly celebrating. Why should the pretty glasses be saved for the drinkers after all? Well this stage came to a grinding halt just over a year ago, when, I was at a friend house party chatting away, I picked up my ‘water’ in a champagne flute, took a sip felt the bubbles of prosecco fizz on my tongue and automatically spat it out again. On the floor. Luckily I was surrounded by wonderful friends who got my some food and made me a hot choc. But that experience really shook me up. So now I always drink from a glass that is clearly marked as mine. Really I should get some ‘glass jewellery’ or a huge cocktail brolly or something to identify it. There’s an idea…


There’s ton of stuff out there to drink if you aren’t drinking, and it’s so widely available and usually cheaper than the hard stuff. I recently stayed in a hotel for work and was really looking forward to a gym sesh, bath and hot choc in my room. On arrival, in a far more prominent position than the tea and coffee were 2 huge decanters of Vodka and Whisky. I know they were Vodka and Whisky because I decided to take the lid off and have a sniff. WHY!? I have no idea, I think I was so shocked that hotels would still offer booze open in rooms without asking, I had to prove that it was true!

They wouldn’t have peanuts opened in bowls in case of allergies, and they wouldn’t have beef jerky open on offer in case of vegetarians so why on earth would they have booze like that in this day and age with all the awareness of addiction around? But then maybe I am just seeing thing through my Rose stained glasses. I went down to reception on my way to the gym and asked if they could remove the decanters from my room. No thought of drinking went through my mind but why would I want to be in a confined space with open bottles of what nearly killed me?


The receptionist was very nice and smiled and nodded. 5 mins later she came down to the gym and asked, you did ask for the decanter to be refilled, not removed…yes?

I fell about laughing; this offer was 3 years too late…


Love Katie





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