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  • Voltaire Staff

Can you 'drink' your way to sobriety? This study says yes


Image Courtesy: DALL-E 2


A Japanese university research suggests that drinking non-alcoholic beverages for over a period can help one cut down on alcohol consumption, with the reduction persisting till after eight weeks of stopping drinking non-alcoholic beverages.


Researchers at Japan's University of Tsukuba conducted the study between May 2022 and January 2023 with a group of 125 people with a history of alcohol.

They chose for the study participants aged 20 years or older who were not diagnosed with alcoholism and who drank at least four times a week. They set the participants' entry cut-off at 40 gm of alcohol intake for men and 20 gm for women.


The researchers divided these people in two groups – intervention and control – and conducted the experiment, which involved administering non-alcoholic beverages to the intervention group, and nothing to the control group allowing them to lead their lifestyle as usual.


According to the study published in BMC Medicine, the researchers provided free non-alcoholic beverages to the intervention group once every 4 weeks for 12 weeks -- three times in total. They then recorded the number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages consumed by them for up to 20 weeks. The participants were asked to log their alcohol intake every day in a diary.


By week 12, researchers found that the change in alcohol consumption was 320.8 gm in the intervention group and 76.9 gm in the control, indicating a much higher reduction in the alcohol reduction among those who were regularly administered free non-alcoholic beverages.


"Even at Week 20 (8 weeks after the completion of the intervention), the change was − 276.9 g," the researchers noted.


The study, which was conducted in association with Asahi Breweries, a major Japanese alcohol producer, concluded "Providing non-alcoholic beverages may be a strategic option for reducing alcohol consumption among people with excessive drinking."


Alcoholism has been suggested to be a major cause behind preventable deaths around the world and measures to curtail its consumption have been constantly devised by policymakers and governments alike. Several states in India have a concept of 'dry days' when all liquor stores have to be mandatorily shut down. Bihar and Gujarat are 'dry' states with sale and consumption of liquor completely outlawed.


However, such sweeping prohibition has not historically been proven effective in weaning people off alcohol; not to speak of several other problems such measures give rise to. Prohibition in the US in 1930s helped foster bootlegging mafia that led to several gang wars. The experiment did not last long.


In India, at least 20 people died in Bihar in 2022 drinking spurious liquor, and almost as many this year in April, arguably as a result of unavailability of quality liquor off shelf and lax laws which allowed people to distil alcohol at homes with little to no standards.


The Japanese research in light of these facts may show some way in weaning people off frequent heavy consumption of liquor, especially if non-alcohol beverages come cheap.


The method, however, may not work for hardened alcoholics, and as much was admitted by researchers, who cited a past study, according to which, drinking non-alcoholic beverages among alcoholics have been seen to trigger a craving for real alcohol among them.



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