Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs in the world. And, like kratom, it has a long history of use in various cultures.
Due to alcohol's widespread use, many kratom users also consume alcohol — sometimes simultaneously. But for some, this combination raises questions of safety. For instance, how do kratom and alcohol interact with one another? And is it safe to consume both substances at the same time?
While research on the exact interactions between kratom and alcohol is slim, some scientists have attempted to examine their relationship. Some of the most promising research suggests that kratom could help people who are addicted to alcohol.
Like alcohol, kratom has sedative and pain-relieving properties (Prozialeck et al., 2012, pg 796). In moderate-to-high quantities (2.5-5g), kratom can promote relaxation by relieving pain and discomfort in a manner that feels similar to alcohol.
As a result, many American kratom users have reported using the plant to reduce their alcohol consumption (PinneyAssociates). The same is true in areas of Southeast Asia, where alcohol use is stigmatized, and kratom is seen as a preferable alternative (Singh et al., 2016, pg 2).
Other kratom users prefer to combine alcohol with kratom rather than using the plant as a cessation tool. As of this writing, researchers haven't examined the consequences of consuming kratom and alcohol simultaneously. That said, the similarities between kratom and alcohol suggest that combining them could be harmful.
One of the apparent dangers of mixing alcohol and kratom stems from the drugs' similarities. Alcohol and kratom both have sedative properties, meaning that they can make the user tired to the point of nearly falling asleep. As a result, mixing alcohol and kratom could likely lead to heavy sedation. After consuming alcohol and kratom, you might not be able to drive or operate machinery properly, even if you've consumed very little of either substance.
Kratom and alcohol also share similar side effects. It's common knowledge that drinking alcohol can lead to nausea, fatigue, and dehydration. But unfortunately, kratom can also cause these undesirable effects (Smith et al., 2017, pg 341). Therefore, combining alcohol and kratom could increase the intensity and severity of these side effects, causing immense discomfort.
Thankfully, not all of kratom and alcohol's interactions are problematic. In fact, recent research has demonstrated that kratom could help those addicted to alcohol.
In one study (Cheaha et al., 2015), a team of researchers explored kratom's ability to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms. They noted that alcohol withdrawal is sometimes treated with antidepressants, but that most of these drugs suppress rapid eye movement sleep (REM). As a result, antidepressants prescribed for alcohol withdrawal can essentially reduce sleep quality and increase the risk of psychiatric illness (Costa e Silva, 2006), neurodegeneration, and other adverse health conditions. However, the researchers theorized that a kratom alkaloid extract could help ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms without disturbing REM sleep.
To test their theory, the researchers dosed adult male Wistar rats with active alcohol withdrawal with either fluoxetine (Prozac — a common antidepressant) or a kratom alkaloid extract. They found that the kratom alkaloid extract "didn't change any REM parameters" and significantly reduced alcohol withdrawal-induced hyperexcitability. These findings demonstrate that kratom's alkaloids could help reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms without impacting REM sleep.
It's worth noting that Cheaha et al. aren't the first to explore kratom's utility in treating alcohol withdrawal. In 2007, another team of researchers found similar results, concluding that kratom "significantly inhibited ethanol withdrawal-induced behaviors that included rearing, displacement, and head weaving" (Kumarnsit et al., 2007).
In many ways, kratom and alcohol are similar drugs. As sedatives and pain-relievers, their effects have the potential to complement one another. This might make it tempting to combine both drugs, but doing so could cause severe fatigue and endanger your safety. For this reason, we recommend that you use each drug separately and never together.