Jan. 18, 2023 -- At the start of every year, some people like to try a “dry January” to stay sober for the month.

Many pregnant women abstain.

Other people just want to cut back on alcohol.

For them and others, drinking “mocktails” and other non-alcoholic beverages can help. But it’s dangerous for people who have moderate to severe alcohol use disorder and can’t stop or control their alcohol use, experts say in The Washington Post.

“It really is, basically, a no,” said George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The cues created by a mocktail can “trigger relapse and re-engagement in excessive drinking.”

Mocktails sometimes use “zero-proof” rum, tequila, whiskey and gin “carefully crafted to taste close to the real thing but without the alcohol,” the paper said. Alcohol-free beer and wine are also available.

Public health experts welcome any reduction in alcohol use, which soared during the pandemic. The World Health Organization says there is no “safe amount” of alcohol.

The problem for those recovering from AUD is this: Mocktails and the like can trigger their urge to drink alcohol, experts told the paper.

Koob likened it to wanting coffee after seeing a green Starbucks sign. People recovering from AUD might crave a real drink after having a mocktail.

“People with alcohol use disorder who start drinking alcohol-free beer are quickly on the road to relapse,” said Tim Brennan, chief of clinical services for the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai Health System. “It’s too triggering. It’s simply too close to the problematic substance.”