Scientists have found evidence that kratom can help alleviate opioid withdrawal and cut down on cravings for recovering opiate addicts. Emerging research and experiential testimony indicates that kratom also cuts down on alcohol cravings and in some cases eliminates the desire to drink altogether.
In a 2011 case study in European Psychiatry, researchers found “The patient’s self medication with kratom prevented alcohol withdrawal symptoms most probably by action on μ-opioid receptors.”
A 2019 study found that isolated kratom alkaloids, mitragynine, 7-hyrdroxymitragynine, paynantheine, and speciogynine, all reduced alcohol intake in mice.
Comments posted to KratomScience.com have indicated kratom has helped “alleviate my desire to drink”. One user took “Maeng Da for alcohol cravings, and had absolutely none.” Another said it made withdrawals from alcohol “nonexistent”. Still another user posted, “the urge just isn’t there anymore. No desire.”
A construction worker from Georgia, Joe Turner, who turned to kratom for chronic pain, told Kratom Science in a 2018 interview:
“After about a month of using kratom, I noticed that I was slowly losing my taste for alcohol. I would still come home from work and, out of habit, grab a beer from the fridge but It seemed, each night, I’d drink less and less until I was pouring out full beers hours later. I just lost all desire for alcohol and any other substances. It was totally unexpected and unintentional. I never thought I’d be the type of person to turn down a Jack and coke or a pain pill. It just happened. I can’t stand the taste of it now and I enjoy my new sober mental state too much to take any other drugs.”
Alcohol is a legal, regulated drug known to damage liver after prolonged, heavy use, or when taken with Tylenol. Some case studies and animal studies (using levels of mitragyinine many times higher than in pure leaf or even kratom extract products) have attempted to link kratom and liver damage, but a comprehensive review published in 2020 referred to the available data as “low quality human evidence” and noted that in studies in rodents “used M. speciosa methanolic extract at doses far higher than typical users are exposed to.” The researchers also pointed out that “many acute and chronic users [of kratom], if not most, do not experience hepatotoxicity” and “It remains unclear which subgroups of users are at heightened risk.” An earlier study found no liver damage among long-term moderate kratom tea drinkers in Malaysia.
Reasonable advice, however, would be to NOT combine kratom with over-consumption of alcohol. This should be relatively easy, as many note a remarkable decrease in alcohol cravings when consuming kratom.
My Own Experiment Using Kratom to Cease Alcohol Consumption
I’m a long term heavy drinker and “functional alcoholic”. I started to drink at a very young age and by the time I was 18 I was drinking very heavily, as were many of my friends. Only rarely have I had hangovers since my early 20s. I’m now in my mid 40s. Alcohol hasn’t done any serious harm to my personal, social, or work life, but with the amount I drink it certainly increases my blood pressure, adds unneeded calories, messes with my blood sugar and lipid profile, and will eventually lead to serious health problems very soon if I don’t cut down or quit entirely. Despite the melodramatic depictions of alcoholics and other drug addicts as down and out and experiencing a living hell, most addicts can function relatively normally most of the time, even on destructive, dangerous drugs like alcohol or opiates.
During a calendar year I usually abstain from alcohol entirely for about a month. In the past two years I’ve used kratom during my “sober” month. In 2019, I went 33 days. In 2020, 43 days. In both cases I had been drinking about the equivalent of a liter of hard liquor or more daily prior to the abstention, but rarely got very drunk as my tolerance was high and I paced the drinks throughout the day. I did have frequent insomnia and dealt with anxiety, especially in the morning before I had consumed my first drink.
In both cases I tapered by drinking beer only for several days before I was to begin my sober month. During that month, I would take no more than 5 grams of kratom brewed into tea per day, not more than 5 days per week. Alcohol cravings were non-existent 4 to 6 hours after consuming kratom tea, but I had daily cravings during the first week that I got through by “sitting with” the cravings… applying a meditative approach, I would “observe” my cravings but not let them control my actions. After a week, cravings would only occur 2-4 times per week, and I was sleeping 6-8 hours through the night, which occurred just about every night for the remaining weeks after my body adjusted to kratom instead of alcohol. This type of sleep rarely occurred while I was drinking. During both the 2019 and 2020 alcohol abstention periods, I smoked cannabis legally obtained through Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program.
In 2019, I consumed wine with dinner after my 33 days without alcohol. I did not get the same mental satisfaction from the wine as I’d been used to for decades, and couldn’t finish the entire drink. In the weeks following, I stopped consuming kratom and had to “train” my body back to enjoying alcohol again. I did this purposefully to study the phenomenon of kratom for alcohol secession.
In spring of 2020, I consumed kratom concurrently with alcohol for a brief period of time to see if I would quit drinking automatically. I consumed less alcohol during this time, but did not automatically lose all desire to drink, and eventually stopped kratom and resumed drinking.
In fall of 2020, after 43 days without alcohol, I decided to take a week’s “vacation” to drink as much as I wanted. I didn’t not consume any kratom that week. I went back to consuming large amounts of hard liquor. I didn’t feel the same mental satisfaction from drinking, my insomnia and anxiety returned, and I was getting hangovers, which hadn’t occurred for over twenty years, even after sober months. I went back to consuming kratom 4-5 days per week. I tried having an occasional drink on the weekends. Like the first glass of wine after the 33 sober days in 2019, I did not get the same mental satisfaction alcohol had provided in the past.
Based on my experience, as well as emerging research and the experience of others, kratom seems to be an effective harm reduction tool for alcoholism. A moderate amount of kratom eliminated any withdrawal symptoms, eliminating cravings while the effects of kratom lasted through the tough early period of alcohol abstention, and eventually my anxiety nearly disappeared, my usually slightly elevated blood pressure dropped to normal levels, I had increased energy and could walk without breathing as heavily, and I was able to sleep through the night. Desire to take more than my usual dose of kratom never manifested, though I did increase the frequency of cannabis consumption to a moderate level from a low level.