Am I walking a ‘tightrope’ back to alcohol?

Will Parry
3 min readJan 6, 2021


Heineken Zero is one of the biggest producers of non-alcoholic beer across the globe.

I thought I changed my life for the better. I turned away from alcohol and chose a safer alternative, something that would steer me away from alcohol forever. Was I wrong? Has the path I ventured on been ultimately the way back to where my problems all started?

18 months ago, was when I last touched alcohol. No more hangovers, no more self-loathing. I feel better. Most days feel positive something, that is abnormal to me. The closest thing I get to alcohol now is non-alcoholic beer. This potentially could be the issue.

I recently discovered a study in the United States that troubled me. That simply the smell of alcohol can cause repercussions to alcoholics, ultimately a relapse. One of the noticeable things about non-alcoholic beer is the similarities of smell. All the hard work, potentially thrown down the drain.

This idea stems from the potential to normalise the consumption of non-alcoholic beer in the same way you would drink alcohol. Trip to the pub with the boys, I would still drink a non-alcoholic beer. This may not be alcohol, but does it matter? This could be the same normalisation of drinking a beer as an alcoholic one would be. That path is worrying. Some have called it the ‘tightrope.’

The tightrope. Fall and you will find yourself with a pint in hand, reach the end and the non-alcoholic beer will continue until the next tightrope. Is this the life I can expect now? That every day will be consist of fear until breaking point and a non-alcoholic beer might be replaced by its alcoholic counterpart. This is not the life I expect.

Heineken Zero along with other non-alcoholic beer producers have never proclaimed their product as being a success at preventing alcoholism, with the marketing primarily focused on being an alternative for designated drivers.

Why? That fear would be a huge burden for some. For me, it’s a positive and is something I know already way too well. Fear already has followed me for the 18 months. This fear being alcohol. I do not fear a relapse. I fear alcohol all together.

Alcohol frightens me. I have understood this following my experience. Drink again and have another seizure. That seizure scars me to this day. I realised I was not unbreakable. In fact, I was broken for a long time. Alcohol being the catalyst of this. A life of drinking to solve problems and bring back a shred of positivity, despite its short-lived nature. I know the problems; I see the world without tinted glasses and that alcohol cannot save me from anything. Only thing alcohol gave me was pain. The fear, a life of pain. Nothing is worth that, especially not alcohol.

Non-alcoholic beers have helped me to steer away from drinking alcoholic drinks.

Maybe I am naïve. Maybe I have reached the point where that normalisation of non-alcoholic beer has already happened, and I am one bad day away from a rum and coke. But these 18 months tell a different story.

I have had bad days over this period, where normally alcohol would have played a role in trying to forget it, except this did not happen. Was non-alcoholic beer a masked comfort blanket, no. I do not see the possibility of saving a bad day via a zero alcohol drink. This is why I see no tightrope. The seed is set in my head, no alcohol again.



Will Parry

International Journalism Student at Cardiff University @cardiffjomec. Twitter @willparryjourno. Cardiff City fan and a lover of Sport and Politics.