KAVA KAVA: MORE THAN AN ALCOHOL ALTERNATIVE
Abusing alcohol poses a real danger. Alcohol addiction is a tragedy — personal, familial, societal. Kava is not a miraculous cure for alcoholism. Kava won’t replace therapy or undo the damage. However, there’s something worth knowing about Kava Kava as an alcohol alternative.
Behind the slogan “Kava as an alternative to alcohol” are two dimensions. The first is the more practical one. Kava Kava is a natural alternative if we seek relaxation, an evening unwind, or social interaction — good humor, openness, smile – without losing clarity of thought or waking up with a hangover. But Kava can also provide support when alcohol is being abused.
KAVA KAVA AND ADDICTION TREATMENT
Searching for information on how Kava Kava can help individuals with alcohol problems, one immediately encounters a lots of pages from addiction treatment centers. And they are worth exploring:
Kava is a safe and effective alternative to alcohol, with none of the negative side effects. Kava has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and increase feelings of well-being. Unlike alcohol, kava is not addictive and does not lead to liver damage or other health problems.
Those who enjoy or consume kava regularly consider it a safe alternative to drinking. Not only that, but they also consider a way to relax as an alternative to marijuana, benzos, or Xanax. When a person consumes kava, a slight buzz comes over them. This buzz could be described as similar to the one that is experienced after having alcohol. However, kava does not leave a person cognitively impaired. —
FREE BY THE SEA addiction treatment center [12/8/2023]
The Maryland Addiction Recovery Center tries to answer the question: DOES DRINKING KAVA COUNT AS A RELAPSE?
Drinking kava during recovery is a topic of controversy, as some argue that it should be considered a relapse, while others believe that it can be a helpful tool in managing cravings.
Note that kava contains compounds that can affect the brain similarly to alcohol and narcotics, which raises concerns for those in recovery. Some addiction specialists advise against drinking kava, as it can trigger a desire for other substances and potentially lead to a lapse. On the other hand, proponents of kava argue that its use can be a healthier alternative to consuming alcohol or illicit drugs.
If you know a bit about the recovery program, you must already be aware that using any mood-altering substance during this period can be considered a relapse. And since kava alters your mind and reflexes, it ventures into a grey area and can count as you breaking sobriety.
Additionally, one can build a tolerance to kava hence consuming it during recovery can be quite a risk which can spoil your entire journey.
There’s a reason that people in early recovery are drawn to kava. After all, it helps calm their nerves which are all over the place as they are battling with addiction. Furthermore, it does not show up on a drug test, and there’s no substantial study about it leading to dependency either. So why should Kava count as a relapse? Because you are relying on a mood-altering substance to beat your addiction. Keep in mind that recovery is all about learning to manage your emotional and mental state without any chemical support other than what has been prescribed by a professional.
– SOURCE: 08.12.2023
KAVA KAVA AND ADDICTION
The potential of Kava Kava in combating addictions has become the subject of scientific research and more. Kava has been incorporated into therapeutic programs worldwide. As S Apo Aporosa details in a comprehensive article for Drug Science titled “De-mythologizing and re-branding of kava as the new ‘world drug’ of choice”:
Of interest is kava’s use in several drug-addiction therapy programmes, encapsulated in the title of Steiner’s (2001) article, ‘Kava as an anti-craving agent’, which reports the preliminary results of kava to mitigate alcohol, tobacco and/or cocaine craving. Braun and Cohen (2010) also discuss the value of kava to benzodiazepine withdrawal. They report that kava ‘may have an anxiolytic effect beyond the benzodiazepines’ (281), and that ‘withdrawal symptoms following discontinuation of benzodiazepines occurred somewhat less frequently under treatment with WS®1490 [kava extract], and even if they did occur, the anxiolytic effect remained’ (282). Further, kava has been used as part of two District Health Board (New Zealand (NZ)) addiction rehabilitation programmes; one in the Bay of Plenty aimed at alcohol which is now in its seventh year (Crowley, 2015, personal communication) and the other in Marlborough, a NZ smoking cessation programme entitled ‘Kava-cation’ which boasts a 90% success rate (Daunauda, 2016).
Moreover, Marotta (2018, personal communication) reports the use of kava and talk therapy, modelled on traditional Pacific kava use systems as extremely valuable in his work with heroin addicts in Thailand and Massachusetts, USA. Leading kava expert, Dr Vincent Lebot (1991) adds weight to this discussion when stating: ‘by pharmacological standards, kava is not classified as a drug, as its consumption never leads to addiction or dependence. It has psychoactive properties but is neither an hallucinogenic nor a stupefacient’.
As indicated by the aforementioned analysis by GG Stainer:
It is assumed that if the neurological process of craving can be interrupted, then addiction can be successfully treated. The active ingredients found in kava, known as kavapyrones, have been found to bind to many sites in the brain that are associated with addiction and craving. In an effort to determine if kava can decrease the craving associated with substances of abuse, a craving survey and pilot study were completed where cravings of alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, and heroin were examined. The preliminary findings suggest that kava may reduce the craving associated with addiction. In one investigation, the participants reported a reduction in their desire for their drug of choice. In another investigation, a standardized amount of kavapyrones led to an apparent difference in abstinence between the experimental and placebo groups for alcohol. The studies presented are considered preliminary and exploratory, and intended only as a precursor to future, more systematic and large-scale investigations. If the findings are confirmed, kava may be a useful component to the treatment of addictions, especially for Native Hawaiian and Pacific peoples.
KAVA KAVA: ALCOHOL ALTERNATIVE
Research on the potential of Kava Kava for individuals struggling with addiction should be conducted more intensively and on a broader scale. Regardless, Kava is increasingly becoming a symbol of a natural alternative to alcohol: a way to manage stress, a choice for young parents, an offering in mocktail bars, or a trend among the sober curious.
At the same time we would like to reminder: do not mix Kava Kava with alcohol!
NOTE: If you are dealing with alcohol addiction, consult with a specialist! Kava Kava may support therapy or break it, but it certainly won’t replace it!
Photo by Aleksandr Popov / Unsplash