Kratom and alcohol are two substances that are often combined. People might do this because they think it will amplify the effects of both drugs. However, the two substances actually have very different effects on the body, and when they are combined, these effects can be unpredictable and dangerous.
In this blog post, we will explore the effects of kratom and alcohol when taken separately and together. We will also discuss the possible dangers of mixing these two substances.
How Alcohol Affects The Body
Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows down the body’s systems. When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it begins to bind to receptors in the brain. This binding process alters the way neurons fire and can lead to changes in mood, behavior, and cognition.
Alcohol affects the brain in several ways. It increases the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure and reward. It also inhibits the brain’s ability to produce glutamate, a neurotransmitter that is important for learning and memory.
At low doses, alcohol can cause feelings of relaxation and euphoria. But as consumption increases, so do the risks for negative side effects. We will get into that a bit later.
How Kratom Affects The Body
Kratom is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to Southeast Asia. The leaves of the kratom tree have been used for centuries by indigenous people in this region for their psychoactive effects.
Kratom leaves contain compounds that can have mild mood-enhancing effects. Kratom has been shown to cause alterations in cognition when large amounts are consumed, and it can also produce stimulant-like or sedative-like effects depending on the dose.
The main active compound in kratom leaves is mitragynine. This compound binds to receptors in the brain that are responsible for pain, anxiety, and pleasure. When mitragynine binds to these receptors, it produces a range of effects, including euphoria, sedation, and increased energy.
Kratom also contains other compounds, namely alkaloids, that contribute to its effects on the body.
Chemical Interactions Between Kratom And Alcohol
Now that we know a little bit about how these two popular chemicals work, let’s talk about what happens when they are combined.
This means that when the two are consumed together, they compete for detoxification by the liver. This can lead to an increased level of both toxins in the body and potentially dangerous side effects.
In addition, kratom contains compounds that can increase the effects of alcohol. For example, one kratom alkaloid, 7-hydroxymitragynine, is a potent agonist of the μ-opioid receptor.
This receptor is responsible for the pain-relieving and euphoric effects of opioids like heroin and morphine. 7-hydroxymitragynine can increase the effects of alcohol by binding to this receptor and amplifying its effects.
What Are People Expecting?
One common reason people choose to mix kratom and alcohol is because they believe they will experience synergy between the two components. The thought is that adding the mood boost usually felt with kratom with the buzz of alcohol will result in a sort of ultra high.
Others expect kratom’s energetic effects to counteract the depressant effects of the ethanol contained in alcoholic drinks. Their goal may be to prolong their level of alertness throughout a longer drinking session.
A third mention is in regards to using kratom with, but not necessarily alongside, alcohol. There are people who believe kratom may help relieve some of the issues felt during alcohol withdrawal. In this way, the expectation is that kratom could help with alcohol addiction.
Side Effects Of Mixing Kratom And Alcohol
Now that we know a little bit about how kratom and alcohol interact, let’s talk about some of the potential side effects of mixing the two.
As mentioned before, kratom and alcohol compete for detoxification by the liver. This can lead to an increased level of both toxins in the body and potentially dangerous side effects.
Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine
Kratom contains compounds that can increase the effects of alcohol. For example, two kratom alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, are partial agonists of the μ-opioid receptor.
This receptor is responsible for the pain-relieving and euphoric effects of opioids like heroin and morphine. Both mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine can increase the effects of alcohol by binding to this receptor and amplifying its effects.
Also, kratom and alcohol both interact with neurotransmitters in the brain. Some of kratom’s alkaloids interact with serotonin and dopamine, while alcohol interacts with GABA.
Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters involved in mood, while GABA is a neurotransmitter involved in anxiety. The combination of kratom and alcohol can lead to an increased risk of anxiety and other mood issues.
The combination of kratom and alcohol can also lead to dehydration and other fluid related problems. Both kratom and alcohol act as diuretics, meaning they increase urination. This can lead to dehydration if these fluids aren’t replaced.
Electrolyte imbalance can also occur when kratom and alcohol are combined. This is because the increased urination caused can lead to the loss of important minerals like sodium and potassium.
The liver is the primary organ responsible for metabolizing kratom and alcohol. Because of this, there are some special considerations to take into account when mixing kratom and alcohol.
Those with pre-existing liver conditions should be especially cautious when considering mixing kratom and alcohol. The increased strain on the liver caused by kratom and alcohol can worsen existing conditions and lead to dangerous side effects.
People taking medications that interact with the liver should also use caution when mixing kratom and alcohol. Medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) are metabolized by the liver and can lead to hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity) when taken in large doses or combined with other substances that tax the liver.
Kratom, Alcohol, and Driving
It’s important to remember that kratom can have similar effects to alcohol when it comes to impairment. Both kratom and alcohol can cause drowsiness, lethargy, and impaired motor skills.
This means that kratom users should not operate heavy machinery or drive after consuming kratom, especially if alcohol is also consumed. Doing so could result in serious injury or even death.
Also, the penalties for getting caught driving under the influence can be severe and potentially include loss of license, hefty fines, jail time, and even prison for repeat offenders or if someone gets hurt.
Kratom overdoses alone are generally not serious and few lead to medical treatment. To reach a fatal level, one would have to consume far more traditional kratom leaf than is possible to ingest over the required time period. However, there is potential danger, including the risk of fatality, if kratom extracts are abused.
Those who overdose on alcohol may not be as lucky. Alcohol poisoning is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Alcohol poisoning can lead to coma and death if not treated promptly.
When mixing the two substances, an overdose may feel more severe subjectively and it will probably also be harder to prevent. The combination of feelings may obfuscate the impact of either individual chemical, making it harder to gauge how much is too much.
Unfortunately, these things are usually not caught in time to avoid the consequences. Avoiding being intoxicated on both kratom and alcohol at the same time is the best way to avoid this.
While kratom is not considered highly addictive, there is a potential for abuse and dependence under certain circumstances. Kratom dependence can develop when kratom is taken in large doses or on a regular basis for an extended period of time.
Dependence occurs when the body becomes accustomed to kratom and begins to require it in order to feel subjectively normal. When kratom is absent, addicted users may experience withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, and cravings.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is considered addictive. Alcohol addiction occurs when someone continues to drink despite negative consequences, which may be physical, mental, or emotional.
Signs of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Inability to sleep
- Shakiness or tremors
- Heart palpitations
Some of these symptoms take months to disappear and severe cases may require formal treatment to avoid extremely dangerous medical events like tonic-clonic seizures. Alcohol and benzodiazapines are the only commonly abused substances from which withdrawal can be fatal.
Mixing kratom and alcohol can increase the risk of dependence because both substances act on similar brain regions and systems. The combination can cause downregulation of the reward systems within the brain, resulting in potentially severe cravings once the chemicals are removed from the equation.
Signs That Kratom Or Alcohol Addiction May Be Developing
There are some signs that kratom or alcohol addiction may be developing. These include:
- Taking kratom or alcohol in larger doses or more often than initially planned
- Inability to cut back or quit even if you really want to
- Noticing use interfering with work, school, or home life
- Neglecting hobbies, activities, and relationships
- Continuing to use despite kratom or alcohol-related problems
Kratom and alcohol both provide effects that many people find enjoyable. That said, the two should not be mixed, especially to a level of intoxication. The combination can be dangerous and lead to overdose, which could even be fatal in extreme cases.
Some suggest that there may even be a possibility of organ damage with prolonged abuse of these two substances in tandem. Given the way these two substances act within the body along with the troves of anecdotal evidence available, it is best to keep their usage separate.