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Tommy Recovery Coaching

Healthy Replacements for Alcohol

In the world of Alcoholics Anonymous and substance abuse recovery, a few colloquial expressions tell members to be careful when choosing replacements for their substance of choice. There’s the cautionary “Don’t trade a monkey for another one,” which refers to other psychoactive substances such as caffeine and nicotine. There are also warnings against “sugarcoating the steps,” which specifically refers to eating too many processed sweets as a way to cope with anxiety. Then we have “swapping the bottle for the yoga mat,” which sounds good as long as it doesn’t devolve into a pathological obsession.

Sobriety is the best replacement for alcohol and any other substances with the potential for abuse. There are, however, other reasonable and functional replacements that recovery counselors and Encinitas addiction recovery coaches often mention.

Exercise as a Neurochemical Replacement

Anthropologists tell us we’ve always been social beings, but deep inside we’re all neurochemical beings, and this fact of life explains why going to the gym can be much better than going to the bar. Of all the neurotransmitters and hormones that interact with ethanol molecules, endorphins play a significant role in making your drinking experience enjoyable. The flood of endorphins released while drinking is a neurochemical process similar to what happens when you feel great during an exercise session. Many alcoholics who are prescribed antidepressants as part of their recovery plans find they don’t need them as long as they’re working out regularly.

Herbal Tea or CBD at Night

Some people in recovery will find it difficult to abandon their nightcap routines, particularly if they associate their nocturnal drinking with falling asleep. This is a situation in which a beverage replacement can be recommended if it can provide a therapeutic effect. 

Herbal teas formulated for sleeping have relaxing ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root, and lavender. CBD is one of the many therapeutic compounds in the cannabis plant. It provides a relaxing effect that isn’t psychoactive, so you can enjoy it at night without having to worry about getting high. Similar to exercise, these replacements provide additional neurochemical benefits.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Most people will initially flinch and scoff at the thought of drinking “near beer” or “fool’s wine,” but this is a case where the expression “Don’t knock it until you try it” fits perfectly. The explosion of the craft beer scene in California means you can now enjoy a tasty Lagunitas Brewing IPNA (India Pale Non-Alcoholic) beer that retains the piney and citrusy notes of the beloved original. Best Day and Athletic Brewing also have non-alcoholic versions of their top-selling beers. As for wine, try a non-fermented Luminara Chardonnay from the Napa Valley or the amazing Sovi Cabernet Sauvignon blend, which is ideal for pairing with many Italian pasta dishes.

Attend Sober Events

If what you’re craving is the social interaction that alcohol often lubricates, a sense of community is the best replacement. This is one of the cornerstones of the AA program, where they tell you to attend meetings instead of falling for the siren call of the bar. 


You can search for sober events in your area on websites such as Meetup and Eventbrite. These events range from mixers and book clubs to volunteering activities and casual sports. Although you don’t necessarily have to attend sober events, they’re recommended because participants enjoy the sense of helping their peers.

If you’re concerned about a loved one’s level of drinking but don’t know where to turn, a good place to start is with an interventionist. Encinitas residents can trust the expertise and experience of the compassionate team at Sober Lifestyle Coaching. Our interventions are guided by love and compassion for the addict to ensure he or she doesn’t feel attacked or judged. In addition, our interventions are well structured and appropriate for coaxing a willingness to change in your loved one who may resist accepting help such as treatment, detox, or rehab. As part of our comprehensive intervention services, we also offer the support of a dedicated Sober Companion to accompany your loved one on the journey to recovery, providing the care and guidance he or she needs in daily life. To learn more about how we can help you or someone you love, call us today.


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