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Recovering Alcoholic Upsets His Coworkers By Downing A 6-Pack Of Non-Alcoholic Beer Every Morning

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When you take your traditions into work, they may not always go over so well.

Especially if you’re a recovering alcoholic and your traditions involve something intense, like drinking lots of non-alcoholic beer over the course of a morning, you may super upset your co-workers and be forced to answer for that.

Redditor InternationalArt5586 found this exact situation in his workplace and went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” to ask for feedback.

“AITA for drinking a 6 pack of O’Doul’s every morning?”

Our original poster, or OP, has been using non-alcoholic beer as a recovery tool.

“For quick context purposes, I’m a recovering alcoholic. I’ve been sober for 4 years. I used to love day drinking — basically waking up in the morning and drinking right away.”

“One thing that helped me kick the juice is drinking O’Doul’s in the morning. It’s a habit I haven’t really broken, and with being said, I bring a 6 pack of O’Doul’s into work every morning and drink them at my cubicle. For those unaware, O’Doul’s is a non-alcoholic brand of beer.”

However, OP’s coworkers are not super happy with this.

I have a handful of coworkers that find this offensive. I won’t call out anyone individually, but I’ve heard comments like ‘I wish I could crush a 6 pack of beers at work’ or ‘I guess it’s 5 o’clock in InternationalArt’s world’ or ‘The rest of us are working hard while InternationalArt’s over there treating this like some sort of frat house party.'”

And it’s also been affecting the workspace.

“I’ve also been told I ‘reek like beer,’ and I’ve even heard people undermine my sobriety by saying I still have a problem and that ‘drinking non-alcoholic beer doesn’t make it any better.'”

But now OP doesn’t know what to think.

“I was recently brought into a meeting with HR and notified that some employees had issued complaints against my ‘behavior.’ I was frustrated because no one yells at Diane for drinking 8 Diet Cokes a day, yet here I am in HR’s office. I was politely asked by my employer to leave the O’Doul’s at home. I’m having an issue understanding why this is a problem.”

Which left him with one question:

“AITA for drinking O’Doul’s at work?”

Redditors ascertained where guilt belongs by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Unfortunately, Reddit was largely not on OP’s side here.

“YTA if you continue. If your coworkers are saying you smell like beer, then I’d place this in a similar category as a coworker who microwaved fish every day.”

“Even if it’s not actually alcoholic and you’re not in a customer facing position, it’s more of a point of professionalism. It’s like if someone was drinking grape juice out of a wine glass all day at work or if Diane was drinking her 8 Diet Cokes out of a pint glass.”~JArtV

“My husband occasionally stops drinking for a week or two when he really needs to get a lot of PhD work done, so he has non-alcoholic beers while I have regular beer. It absolutely smells like beer (because it is! It’s just low-alcohol) and probably the OP is smelling like beer as well. This is unprofessional behaviour, sorry OP. I get it, but you can’t drink beer at work, alcoholic or no.”~boudicas_shield

“YTA if you continue doing this. It would be a rare office where drinking 6 ODoul’s first thing in the morning at your desk wouldn’t be commented on. The fact that it is nonalcoholic doesn’t change that everyone knows that it is meant as a substitute and looks like you are drinking beer. First I’ll say that I think consulting a doctor or addiction specialist might give you better tools, but I know that’s not an option for everyone sooo… I’d either get a thermos to pour them into before work so that people don’t know what you are drinking from the look/label, get up earlier and drink them at home before work, or drink them in your car when you are allowed a break. But you gotta stop the desk thing, it’s going to make you look so much worse if you keep doing it after being warned.”~Nyankh

YTA. That is an alcoholic ritual without the alcohol. The fact that you drink it isn’t concerning, but the way you drink it – shotgunning and then cracking open more cans – and the way you are clinging to this behavior is worrisome. Have you spoken about this behavior with your sponsor? What about a doctor?”

“Even though this is a less harmful way to feed your addiction, it is still giving in to your addictive tendencies.”

“Since it’s now affecting your work place you should stop. If you feel like you can’t stop, or you’re making excuses for why you shouldn’t, that should be sending off warnings in your head that this is about more than nonalcoholic beer.”~EmpressJainaSolo

Because it is a dependent ritual, it is striking many Redditors as unhealthy.

“Seriously! I’m also surprised that OP didn’t think this behaviour may be trigger for possible alcoholics in recovery around him? I’m a recovering addict and I would be very triggered having to deal with this at work. YTA OP.”~Abbadee

“YTA, but not for using a nonalcoholic beer as a stepping stone for getting sober (if it’s with your sponsor’s support/approval). Nonalcoholic beer REEKS like regular beer. You are actively making your office smell like beer every morning while drinking a full six-pack, which also makes other employees super uncomfortable.”~blackbirdflying

“YTA. O’Douls still has alcohol in it. According to the website, it has .4% You’re drinking at work.”

“ETA: you are not sober if you’re drinking every day and drinking at work. .4% is still .4%. It doesn’t matter if you’re customer facing or not. Your coworkers still have to deal with you smelling like alcohol and drinking at work.”~cubbiegthrow

“YTA. It’s not alcohol free. You’re just making excuses to drink a tiny bit of alcohol because you can’t handle your sobriety. If you were truly a recovering alcoholic you would know that you shouldn’t even be drinking non-alcoholic beer. I know, I’ve been sober 5 years and I never touch the stuff. You’re on a slippery slope pal. Not to mention that drinking soda doesn’t even compare to drinking beer at work. This is a conversation you should have with your sponsor.”~SnooDingos4212

Plus, it does smell—which makes it inconsiderate to co-workers.

“This is just bizarre. I’m not going to comment on whether the NA beer alcohol content counts as ‘recovery’ because I have no idea. I can say this would make me super uncomfortable to witness every morning. Even though the beer is non-alcoholic, it’s still not really a work appropriate drink especially in the morning.”

“Add to that the way you drink it and I’d feel like I was watching an alcoholic. I get why HR talked to you. Talk to somebody in an AA program or a sponsor or a therapist and figure this out. YTA and likely going to be a jobless a**hole if you don’t stop.”~Pixiestyx00

“Smelling like alcohol is affecting others and impacting your work relationships. That is a reality that you’re not addressing. You replaced one addiction for another, yes? Have you heard of a dry drunk? What does your AA sponsor say? YTA – I hope you’re able to take this gentle nudge to good conclusion for yourself.”~cautiousoptimzm

“YTA if you continue. Frankly, being raised by alcoholics, I would say you do what you need to to stay sober. If this is that then it is what it is. However, if the smell is becoming an issue at work, then you have to find a way to adjust. Maybe drink your non alcoholic beer at a different time/location in the morning, maybe replace the office drinking with a run in the morning I don’t know.”

“I’m glad you got this far, you need to work with your support system to find another way of coping in the morning. A walk, a run, a special fancy breakfast you make every morning, you need a new ritual.”~engg_girl

“YTA only because I have to give judgement. OP, you know this is ritualistic drinking behavior. It becomes incredibly hard to kick habits that we used to engage in when we were actively using/consuming alcohol. Therapy is an excellent tool to help with this. If that isn’t enough, take a look at the impact this is having on your life. Is this habit affecting your functioning in the workplace? The answer appears to be yes, based on your coworkers responses and having a meeting with HR. Recovery is a difficult, non-linear process, and you’ve made huge steps.”~preoccupiedplatypus

OP’s recovery process may feel as though it’s being hindered by coworkers, but if his ritual is disrupting the workplace, he may not be totally in the right here.  

If he sees the light and is able to develop new rituals, it may aid in his recovery process altogether.

Written by Mike Walsh

Mike is a writer, dancer, actor, and singer who recently graduated with his MFA from Columbia University. Mike's daily ambitions are to meet new dogs and make new puns on a daily basis. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mikerowavables.