Drinking beer can appear far less harmful than consuming hard spirits like vodka or whisky. This means it could appear reasonable to suggest that alcoholics could use beer in much the same way as heroin addicts use methadone. The hope is that by getting these individuals to switch to beer, it is going to mean they are more in control and in a better position to quit altogether. The reality is that this approach is almost doomed to failure because the idea that beer is safer than spirits is actually a myth.
Is Beer Safer Than Spirits?
The reason individuals become alcoholic is not because of the type of alcoholic drink they consume. Plenty of people only ever drink beer, yet they have still managed to become addicted. The only difference between a weak beer and a strong spirit is that the individual does not need to drink as much of the latter in order to get drunk. The most common reason alcoholics prefer spirits over beer is to do with price rather than anything else. In fact, it is common for those who are addicted to prefer beer because it means it is easier keep drinking all day while only becoming mildly intoxicated.
It is also important to keep in mind that some beers are very strong – for example, Carlsberg Special Brew and Tennents Super Lager are over 9 per cent alcohol content. This means that three pints of one of these strong drinks would be the same as drinking a pint of neat spirits. Some of the most popular beers around are strong, so it would be misleading to think of them as safer than spirits. It is also usual for those who drink beer to be at the same level of intoxication as their spirit drinking friends because they just drink more liquid – a half pint of beer is equal to a shot of spirits.
The Danger of Using Beer as Methadone
If an alcoholic who usually drinks spirits makes the decision to switch to beer, it is unlikely to solve his or her problems. This is because he or she may still be drinking the same amount of alcohol each day and doing the same amount of damage to their body and mind. The fact that this person wants to take action to improve their life is very good news but switching to beer might not be the best way of doing this.
Some alcoholics switch to beer with a plan of tapering off alcohol. Sometimes this can work, but it can actually be very hard to do things this way. The problem is that tapering off requires long-term motivation, which is hard to maintain this level of motivation when the individual is still drinking. What usually happens is that the person manages to taper off for a few days but then something happens and it is back to square one.
The action that is most likely to improve the alcoholic‘s life is for he or she to get the help needed to achieve permanent abstinence. The motivation that this person currently has to change is a great gift, but it needs to be used wisely. Using this determination to switch to beer could easily end up being a wasted opportunity.
Beer Can Lead to Alcoholism
It is tempting to look at beer as type of non-alcoholic drink. People can kid themselves that as long as they only drink beer then they never need worry about alcoholism. This is simply not true, and thinking this way can put the individual in real danger of developing an addiction.