- Younger generations are changing their relationship to wine amid the “sober curiosity” movement.
- Alcohol alternatives, such as Kava seltzers and CBD drinks, are becoming more popular as a result.
- I drank viral “dope water” from TikTok as a substitute for alcohol to see what the trend is all about.
It was Thursday night and my friends were hosting a dinner party in their apartment. They sipped wine and margaritas, and after a long day at work I was tempted to join in.
Instead, I sat on the couch and opened a shiny metal can of what looked like solid carbonated liquid.
“Dope water?” asked my friend Robbie. “Are you going off now?”
I told him no, not at all, and explained the story behind the drink in my hand. Despite the name, hydration water doesn’t contain LSD or psilocybin, and it certainly won’t make you hallucinate.
Its main ingredient is kava, a root that Pacific Islanders have used for thousands of years for its calming effects. Along with damiana leaf and green tea extract, the drink is designed to relieve anxiety while also providing a boost of energy.
Kava supplementation has been shown to have “negligible effect in reducing anxiety” and has been linked to a risk of severe liver injury, according to the National Institutes of Health. The main side effect I had while drinking the psychedelic water was the occasional tingling sensation on my tongue and slight stomach aches.
On social media, users have described the viral product as an ideal alcohol alternative for the “sober curious” – a growing movement of people who are selectively abstaining from alcohol for lifestyle reasons other than a history of addiction.
After drinking water as a substitute for alcohol for the past month, I’ve found it to be a great way to de-stress or relieve social anxiety, with the added benefit of avoiding a hangover. Plus, it tastes really good (my favorite flavor was prickly pear).
Sales of non-alcoholic beverages rise as consumers reassess their relationship to alcohol
As Insider’s Alana Akhtar previously reported, sales of soft drinks increased 33% to $331 million last year, according to Nielsen. Psychedelic Water was one of the unheard of brands that took off on social media during this time.
“I think the general trend is that everyone wants to be healthier,” Pankaj Jojia, CEO of Sassydelic Water, said in an interview with Insider. “But at the same time, he wants things that take the stress out of them, relax them, and allow them to be social.”
Ben Rogol, head of marketing for the brand, added that while many believe the discreet curiosity is closely linked to health or wellness concerns, another key factor is the desire to be productive the next. As someone with a hangover worse than the average person, this was my primary motivation for trying to stay away from alcohol.
Rather than wondering why they shouldn’t drink alcohol, I’ve found that most people are deeply curious about the contents of the can and the supposed benefits. Jogja told Insider that calling the drink a “narcotic” has its pros and cons.
“Some people don’t touch things because of their name,” he said. “There is still a lot of stigma attached to the drug in the minds of the general public.”
As alcohol’s reputation takes a beating, Jogja says he wants to use the product as a way to destigmatize the hallucinogenic drug. While saying no to drinking but yes to drugs may seem unexpected, the CEO said the effect of drugs on the brain is different from alcohol, even though most people put all illegal drugs in the same harmful category.
He told Insider that he hopes Psychedelic Water’s new partnership with Urban Outfitters will help launch this shift in mindset among younger consumers.
“We want people to start understanding what psychedelic drugs are and what their benefits are,” Jogja said. “Vision [Psychedelic Water] Available in a supermarket or a national store, I believe that over a period of time – consciously and consciously – it will change people’s attitudes.”