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Alcohol Alternatives: A Buzz without the Alcohol

Alcohol alternatives offer a buzz without the alcohol or the hangover!

These substitutes offer an option to relax and socialize, without the negative effects of alcohol.

Whether you’re contemplating an alcohol-free lifestyle, or aiming to reduce your intake, this article is for you!

Understanding the Risks of Alcohol Use

Alcoholic beverages often come with a host of negative side effects.

Most of us can relate to the infamous hangover or a pounding headache after a couple of glasses of wine.

It’s a constant dilemma between enjoying the moment and enduring the aftermath the next day.

Bottles of various hard alcohol on glass shelves
Alcoholic beverages come with negative effects.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

The impacts of alcohol extend beyond a hangover. Prolonged alcohol consumption can lead to:

  1. Depression and/or anxiety
  2. Sleep disturbances
  3. Changes in appetite and weight
  4. Conflict in Relationships
Woman with her head in her hands; alcohol can contribute to depression.
Alcohol can cause depression or make depression worse.

Moderation is Key

The National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse recommends moderate alcohol consumption for adults of legal drinking age.

For men, this translates to limiting intake to 2 drinks or less per day. While women should limit alcohol to 1 drink or less per day.

Drinking less alcohol is better for overall health.

Woman drinking a glass of red wine
Moderation is defined as 1 drink/day for women.

Alcohol & Aging

Regular alcohol consumption can accelerate aging.

As you age, the adverse effects of alcohol become more pronounced.

Alcohol exacerbates dehydration, weakens organs, shrinks brain cells, and makes you more susceptible to illness.

Regular enjoyment of alcoholic drinks can worsen existing medical conditions. 

In addition, alcohol can also interact with medications and can increase your risk of falls.

2 older couples having a picnic toasting with wine
Aging makes us more sensitive to the effects of alcohol.

Consider Alcohol Alternatives

Living a life free of alcohol is increasing in popularity!  Wellness trends like Dry January, and the Sober Curious Movement promote sobriety for health.

Global sales of no- and low-alcohol category value topped $11 billion in 2022, with growth expected to accelerate in the coming years, according to data from IWSR.

Benefits of Alcohol Alternatives

  1. Reduces alcohol consumption
  2. Allows for “social drinking” without the effects of alcohol
  3. Supports weight loss
  4. Decreases blood pressure & triglycerides
  5. Improves cognitive function
  6. Promotes restful sleep
  7. Healthy skin
  8. Enhances relationships
Woman in a green tank top with her arms raised in a "v" celebrating.
Decreasing alcohol has positive effects on health.

CBD Drinks as an Alcohol Alternative

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp plants.

Animal studies, and self-reports in humans, suggest CBD may help with anxiety, insomnia, and pain.

CBD chemical composition next to a marijuana leaf

Recess Sparkling Water – CBD Drink

Recess Sparkling Water is infused with calming hemp & balancing Adaptogens. 

Certain plants and mushrooms are classified as Adaptogens, which claim to reduce stress.

Recess set out to create a beverage that would help people feel “calm and balanced despite living in an increasingly stressful world”

Recess strives for its users to feel “calm, cool, and collected“.

THC Drinks as an Alternative to Alcohol

THC drinks are available in states where recreational marijuana is legal. They contain the psychoactive form of cannabis.

These new-age beverages typically contain CBD and a low level of THC.  Most are low in sugar and calories. 

Fans of THC-infused drinks report a relaxed feel-good effect without the high and associated “munchies”.

The letters "THC" written out in marijuana

Cann Social Tonics – THC Drink

Cann Social Tonics is increasing in popularity with the legalization of marijuana. 

Their website proclaims Cann as “the future of social drinking”.  The creators of this THC beverage brought the idea of low dosing to the cannabis industry.

The experience of Cann is described as a “euphoric, much more controllable, uplifting experience” than a traditional Cannabis high. 

Reviewers enjoy refreshing flavors like Grapefruit Rosemary and Lemon Lavender. 

Kava – A Plant Based Alcohol Alternative

Kava is a supplement that may mimic alcohol’s effects.  It is a plant native to the Pacific Islands.

Kava may aid in relaxation, stress relief, and sleep.

It has an earthy flavor which some describe as an acquired taste.  It is typically consumed with beverages like juice or tea.

Much of the research to date has focused on Kava’s potential to reduce anxiety. 

Look for Kava products that list the kavalactone content, as well as other ingredients.

Bowl of kava in a wooden bowl

Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea – Kava Drink

Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea can be found at many local grocers.  This tea is purposefully blended with Kava, a root traditionally used for relaxation and sleep.

Leilo Calm in a Can

Leilo is a sparkling relaxation drink with Kava. I tried the variety pack from Amazon below.

The Raspberry Hibiscus-flavored Leilo was my favorite. I found Leilo to be relaxing. It also resulted in a slight numbness in my mouth.

It is pricey, however, you can catch it on a “lightning deal” through Amazon.

Adaptogens as an Alcohol Alternative

Adaptogens are natural substances like herbs and mushrooms that help the body adapt to stress.

There are over 70 different types of Adaptogens.  Examples include Ginseng and Ashwagandha.  Both are linked to stress relief. 

Adaptogen-containing drinks are part of the functional beverage industry, as discussed in a previous blog post on the Benefits of Collagen Tea.

*Adaptogens are not regulated by the FDA. The claims associated with these products are based on limited research and experiential data.

A variety of adaptogens
A variety of different adaptogens exist.

Kin Euphorics – Non-Alcoholic Beverage with Adaptogens

Kin Euphorics is a non-alcoholic, carbonated canned beverage.  

The company says the key to its concoctions is in harnessing the power of Adaptogens, which “balance the effects of stress on the body”.

Kin Euphorics contains Reishi mushroom, saffron, L-tryptophan, and passionflower.  Tasters report a subtle sense of calm from a refreshing beverage.

Magic Kick – Non-Alcoholic Beverage with Adaptogens

Magic Kick is an Adaptogen beverage developed by Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing reality star, Fredrik Eklund.

His story involves becoming sober and unsuccessfully looking for an alcohol alternative for socializing.

Eklund wanted the benefits of alcohol without the hangover and negative side effects.

His line includes three beverage options named for their desired effect- Party (Blueberry Chai), Sex, (Pomegranate Lime), and Sleep (Blueberry Lavendar).

Magic Kick’s line of alcohol alternatives primarily contains mushroom-based adaptogens (Reishi, Chaga, Maitake).

Eklund’s products also include additional adaptogens – Ginseng, Aswagandha, Gogi, and Guayusa.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks as an Alternative to Alcohol

Below are drinks without alcohol or any other mood-altering additives.  Enjoy them on their own or as a sipper between alcoholic drinks.

  • Club Soda with Lime
  • Juice Spritzer
  • Grenadine, Tonic Water, and lemon Syrup
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Lemon, Lime, & Bitters
  • Seltzer Water with Bitters
  • Virgin Bloody Mary
  • Virgin Mojito
  • Kombucha
  • Ginger Beer
  • 0% Beer
2 glasses filled with non-alcoholic beverages
Mocktails are a common alcohol alternative.

Mocktails are also a great alcohol substitute. Check out this Age-Defying Dietitian blog post “How to Make the Best Virgin Moscow Mule“.

Takeaways for Alcohol Alternatives

Choosing alcohol alternatives can offer a pleasant and enjoyable experience without the effects of alcohol.

Check out this Sober Curious gift guide and Alcohol Substitutes for a Summer Buzz for additional alcohol alternative options.

Alcohol alternatives provide a buzz without the alcohol or the hangover! Check out this Sober Curious gift guide for more alcohol alternatives.

2 people toasting with mocktails; cheers to alcohol alternatives!
Cheers to alcohol alternatives!


Keep in mind that claims made by the manufacturers of Alcohol Alternatives have not been evaluated by the FDA.  Effects from alcohol alternatives will vary, and there is always the placebo effect to consider.

Always consult your physician before using any products containing supplements or drugs like THC. 

In addition, reference your employer’s drug and alcohol policy prior to enjoying any THC-infused products.

Hungry for More?

Check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s Blog for the latest content on all things healthy aging!

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