Can You Get Drunk on Alcohol Free Drinks?

I actually thought people answer knew the answer to can you get drunk on alcohol free? But then I though actually I was unsure at the beginning as it seemed so confusing.

Then I counted how many readers have asked this question over the past few weeks and it was coming up to 15 people so as promised I thought I best address it.

You can things like I can I get drunk on alcohol free beer or wine for example. What about alcohol free cider or low alcohol cider. It seems like the percentages were getting in the way.

And as for the labels well they don’t really help!

Of course the answer to can I get drunk on alcohol free is no!

But then again I suppose it depends on how many you drink and if you are choosing 0.0% abv or up to 0.5% abv.

Just to be clear because of my health issue I only drink beers, wines and gins that are alcohol free and avoid anything that goes over this.

Why? Because of my liver I can’t have alcohol going into my system. Although alcohol is naturally occurring in many products so more about that later.

So as you will know from the name of the blog I do tend to talk a lot about 0.0 abv. ABV is a killer stat in my book and it’s really key to all alcohol consumption when it comes down to alcohol content.

ABV is alcohol by volume and it tells you how much alcohol if any is in your drink especially if it comes under the licensing laws.

Although food is another thing entirely!

Can You Get Drunk On Alcohol Free Beers

I don’t just mean alcohol free here either, from your port, to sherry to your full on Stella Artois, they will all have an alcohol by volume figure attached to them.

Of course, it can help tell you how quick you will get drunk and if you need to run for the mountains because you choose not to or can’t drink alcohol.

It’s how I navigate around any bar, restaurant, supermarket or online shop. The good news is that is how alcohol free is also licensed so that is why even 0.0 alcohol free beer needs my identification when it’s delivered to my door.

At least I feel young again, well sort of!

You Need ID for alcohol free

Although there is a bit of a caveat here.

In general food production alcohol can form naturally and I would go mad trying to avoid everything with the tiniest bit of trace alcohol like fruit juice or bread rolls for example.

However, in foods that have alcohol added purposely well that is a different story. Watch out for desserts but more on that later.

Alcohol Free and Low Alcohol Drinks

Go online and do a search for any alcohol free product and you will get confused. I certainly was when I started this journey.

Now mine is a zero alcohol approach needed for my health but for many of you it’s just a healthier lifestyle. You just want to drink less alcohol.

Regardless which one it is you have the right as a consumer to know how much alcohol is in your drinks by law. That law also includes low alcohol and no alcohol drinks.

No and low as they call it!

Can You Get Drunk on Alcohol Free Cider

Contrary to general view not everyone who goes down this route has a serious alcohol problem. Quite the opposite actually.

Confused ? Read what is alcohol free?

Now while many of the options are low alcohol I would choose the one that states 0.0%. So if anything there might be trace in there as there is some natural fermentation but even that is much lower that some foods however.

You quite right asked if you could get drunk on both 0.0% abv and also 0.5% abv.

Many beers and wine while being low or alcohol free might contain up to 0.5% so it’s really good to know what they mean and can it be good for your health?

Let’s be clear cutting down your intake can only be a good thing. Always know your limits through drink aware.

Does alcohol free make you drink alcohol in large amounts and it is really unhealthy?

So as one contributor asked me on the blog, if they went to a bar and drank 0.5% abv beers would they eventually get off your face as you so nicely put it! So drunk!

Can you Get Drunk on Alcohol Free Drinks

The same goes for 0.5% wine and any low alcohol beverage. The thing is once you know the abv you can make some assumptions.

That of course is if you are not trying to avoid alcohol all together.

What does math and science say?

Now I failed my maths exam the first time around at school but don’t let that put you off as I have got quite good at this abv and alcohol free stuff.

I have had too as my life depends on it!

Working out alcohol by volume

So let’s take a real life example that you good look up and fact check.

Coors Light beer is around 4% alcohol by volume. So let say Coors had a 0.5% version of that beer and you drank 8 pints of that beer.

OK maybe not let’s do it differently.

So if you knocked back just 5 pints of 4% Coors Light beer you know normally you would feel the effect and a bit wobbly on your feet. Then as an equivalent to you would need to drink a whopping 40 pints of 0.5% beer to have the same effect?

Makes sense right? Well in reality no it would not as its not real life drinking or how our body works.

So here is a big fly in the ointment here. Question.

Are you really going to drink 40 pints of 0.5% in record time in a pub or even on your sofa watching a movie on Netflix.

If you are I would not recommend it.

The gas in the beer would probably make you sick before you even started to get near to your goal which you probably decided to do to make a point anyway.

It’s research time!

So this is where my research comes in on the science which I learned through an article I wrote on drink-driving and it’s all down to something called BAC.

No it’s not an airline it actually stands for blood alcohol count. So how much alcohol is in your blood at anyone point in time.

What is Blood Alcohol Level ?

It also statistically accurately measures you legally.

Just to confuse you though this can depend on your body size, if you have eaten, muscle mass, general tolerance of alcohol and gender.

Except when is doesn’t!

The list could go on and this is where science can sometimes not be totally accurate when it comes to the effect of alcohol in the real world.

Not the measure itself but once the alcohol is in your blood, that’s very accurate.

In the real world we have all seen one person who has one glass of wine and is on the floor.

It used to be my Gran at Christmas!

How does alcohol work?

You may have heard of ethanol; it’s the content in the alcoholic beverage that sends us into a drunken stupor after too many.

Fermentation occurs in drinks when yeast breaks down the sugars in malt, grapes, potatoes and whatever else is used in the production of your favorite alcohol drinks.

As we have our first wine the ethanol or alcohol goes into your bloodstream. As more alcohol goes in with every drink our BAC so blood alcohol level increases.

So this is a simple thing to understand really the more ethanol in your system the more we get drunk or certainly feel the effect of it.

Ethanol is what makes us drunk

We might feel our speech slur, or laugh a bit or generally feel on top of the world. That is before the hangover kicks in or the shakes or the paranoid moments that all come with alcohol consumption.

The equation is really easy the more alcohol the more we get drunk. Simple eh?

Now as I have written about and contrary to belief the liver will not be rushed on any level on how quick it processes alcohol.

Its sensitive organ as I have unfortunately come to learn through my social wine drinking!


Can You Get Drunk on Alcohol Free Wine ?

So our liver says 1 unit and 1 hour. That’s it and it won’t negotiate.

So while your liver is doing the best job it can your blood alcohol level will continue to increase so plenty of alcohol swirling around in the bloodstream then.

There is no where for it to go!

Not putting aside what we have had to eat, body size and gender according the New Scientist, alcohol starts to impact our performance ( when we start to feel the effects) when the amount of alcohol in our blood stream reaches around 0.04%

This could take anywhere from 10 -30 minutes well according to the science anyway.

The legal limit for drink-driving in England, Wales & Northern Ireland is 0.08% but it was recently lowered to 0.05% in Scotland.

However, bear in mind all the factors we have spoken about that can influence this including any medication of which many contain alcohol themselves.

Always check with your pharmacist!

Can You Get Drunk on Low Alcohol Beer at 0.5%

Again according to New Scientist magazine our body takes on average one hour to process just 1 unit of alcohol as discussed earlier.

Can You Get Drunk on Alcohol Free

One unit is the equivalent of 10ml or 8g or pure alcohol. In pints of 0.5% you are looking at around 0.28 units.

So your system is actually processing that amount of alcohol every 17 minutes or so according to New Scientist Magazine.

So in reality you would need to be drinking four pints of 0.5% beer per hour to go beyond how fast you could process the alcohol.

Now even for the hard drinker that it a lot of liquid to drink and surely you would want to enjoy the low alcohol beer anyway now that the brewers have finally got their act together on the taste side of things.

Of course, you could like me go for 0.0 options and that would really sort out your issue around if it could make you drunk or not.

Just be clear if you have condition that is sensitive to alcohol always check with a medical professional.

Its why I choose totally alcohol free while excepting many products and foods have a trace.

Even though I am dedicated to totally alcohol free I realize that many of you are happy with 0.5% per cent drinks.

I totally get it.

So I have teamed up with Good Stuff Drinks below to bring you the best range of both types of alcohol and alcohol free beers and cider. Plus wine is that your thing. There are some seriously good alcohol free wines now.

I also love alcohol free fizz!

Click the picture below ( affiliate link ) to see their range and you pay exactly the same price.



Low Alcohol Beer verses Orange Juice

Now in reality alcohol, bread rolls and many other foods that naturally produce small trace amounts of alcohol and could probably out do low alcoholic beer.

So all these trace amounts of alcohol are not really going to get you past that blood alcohol level BAC of 0.04% to start getting you drunk.

How Much Alcohol in Orange Juice ?

Unless you are a phantom roll eater, remember there is yeast in bread making or are you orange juice obsessive?

I have recently written about why fruit juice is not a natural alternative to alcohol free here.

So it seems your 0.5% low alcohol drinks are OK! Well in the getting drunk stakes anyhow.

They won’t get you drunk unless you are going to massively drink pints and pints of cider or beer with an abv of 0.5% or over.

And I would suggest you do anyway.

Remember you are trying out a more alcohol free lifestyle right? Anything 0.5% or below is considered alcohol free.

And yes it does have some trace alcohol of course and is not 0.0%

But the amount is so low you could not really get drunk.

Food that has alcohol

Remember though if you are eating desserts and certain foods while dining out they can have lots of alcohol added.

There are some foods that say all the alcohol is burned off during cooking which may or may not be the case.

If you are unsure, always ask the restaurant you are eating in and if in doubt you can always ask for it without a sauce or even ask for it to be put on the side.

I recently worked out the 7 out of the 8 desserts in a restaurant had alcohol in them. I went for ice cream in the end.

I normally find restaurant and food service more accommodating than bar service when you ask for an alcohol free drink to be honest.

Maybe they have more of a history of having to deal with allergy requests. Who knows? But it’s a good thing!

I write about alcohol and food here

So my advice is don’t worry about getting drunk on 0.5% drink however there are many great alternatives that I would choose personally.

I have 0.0 alcohol preference and that for me is a lifestyle choice giving that many are great quality with that extra guarantee.

Drunk on the Karaoke

However, if you are 0.5% and enjoying them sensibly I don’t think we will see you singing a drunk song on the karaoke anytime soon.

Are you confused on low alcohol versus alcohol free?

It can be really confusing and if you want to know your alcohol limits visit the drink aware website

I would love to know where your views are on the difference between 0.5 per cent abv and totally alcohol free.

Did you know that alcohol and low alcohol are a bit different. I would love to know your view on can you get drunk on alcohol free drinks. Leave your comment below and I always get back to you.

6 thoughts on “Can You Get Drunk on Alcohol Free ?”

  1. I haven’t tried alcohol at all, but have eaten products with small amounts. There are many drinks labelled low alcohol and alcohol free beverages which always made me wonder if it can make you drunk. Though I was kinda sure they don’t effect you due to the low amount, however after reading this I am better able to understand how and why. 

    Thanks for answering this question in detail! I’m a little curious on the alcohol in dessert topic too!

  2. I have found that for me the 0.0% ABV is the best way to go. I like the taste  of beverages that have alcohol in them. As a result of my like for such beverages, I stay completely away from them. I have learned that if I stay away from where alcohol is served then I am not tempted to consume.

    For anyone who like the taste, I would recommend to go with the 0.0% route, this way there is VERY little likelihood of overindulging in alcoholic beverages. If you like to drink socially, do your research as to what is available so you can make an informed decision.


    • Hey Jerry, great comment, and 0.0 abv is certainly my preferred option, in my experience you know what you are getting and the taste is improving all the time as the production techniques improve. 

      I really appreciated you stopping by and commenting, all the best Phil

  3. Thanks for explaining this in-depth. It cleared up a few misconceptions I had in regards to alcohol and alcohol levels. I completely avoid alcohol since Uni but now I feel a bit more comfortable to attempt drinking low alcoholic beverages. I may try it at another social occasion (whenever that may be). 

    • Hey thanks so much for leaving a comment on can you get drunk on alcohol free? I agree it can be very confusing and sometimes the alcohol free or low alcohol labels really don’t help. 

      I am really pleased it helped with what to drink and what to avoid. As they say knowing is everything!

      I really appreciate you stopping by. All the best Phil


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