If you take antabuse (disulfiram), will you react when you drink non-alcoholic beer? You should avoid alcohol-free beer while taking this medication for more than one reason.
How alcohol-free beer reacts with Antabuse
First, non-alcoholic beer (NA beer) is not actually completely alcohol-free. You will see it says “near beer” or “low alcohol beer”. Typically, most brands of alcohol-free beer on the market today contain around 0.5 percent alcohol.
Antabuse is designed to cause anyone to drink alcohol while feeling severely uncomfortable. By disrupting the normal metabolic process of alcohol, Antabuse can cause a variety of symptoms, from mild to very severe.
When taking a therapeutic dose of Antabuse, alcohol consumption can lead to a number of symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, palpitations, and facial flushing. This response is proportional to both the dose of antabuse and the dose of alcohol...
Some people have reported some mildly aversive reactions to non-alcoholic beer, although the veracity of these reports is not clear..Previous research had also shown no side effects in people who used small amounts of communion wine or bronchial sprays or ear drops with small amounts of ethanol...
Exposure to non-alcoholic beer can induce temptation
Aside from the possible side effects of mixing non-alcoholic beer and antabuse, ideally people who have problems with alcohol should stay away from these “near beer” products. Drinking non-alcoholic beer can trigger alcohol cravings...
The smell of the beer is particularly a powerful trigger. If a person is struggling to maintain sobriety, this is a suggestion to avoid. The small amount of alcohol in the nearby beer can also be a problem in promoting relapse.
Another factor is the social situation in which you drink the non-alcoholic beer. When you get in touch with friends who have been your drinking buddies and drink alcohol, staying sober can be difficult.
To maintain your sobriety, most experts recommend breaking these patterns and staying out of this social situation. How might you react if your friends challenge you to have a sip of “real beer” or make fun of choosing a soft drink?
When someone says they drink non-alcoholic beer while using antabuse
One problem family members face when trying to support their alcoholic relatives is that often because they are not told the truth, they are unable to respond to real circumstances.
One woman reports that her husband stopped drinking after a traffic accident and used antabuse to enforce sobriety. However, he started drinking non-alcoholic beer. He soon returned home and appeared to have drunk alcohol, but without the physical effects antabuse was supposed to produce. He probably didn’t take the antabuse and had probably reverted to regular beer. This is fairly typical behavior for people with a substance or alcohol use disorder.
If someone says they are taking antabuse when they are also drinking non-alcoholic beer, they are probably not being honest.
Those who are truly addicted will do everything possible to protect the drug of their choice. Unfortunately, this also includes lying to those who are closest to you. Although their dishonesty causes all sorts of problems at home, at work, or at school, being able to keep drinking is not as important for the person with the alcohol use disorder.
A word from Verywell
For friends and family members dealing with the sometimes confusing and frustrating behavior of an alcoholic or addict, help and support from others who are or have been in similar circumstances is available in Al-Anon Family Groups.