eople love alcohol. In spite of its many well-known dangers, over 85% of adults have at least tried alcohol. And over 70% have drank at least one alcoholic beverage over the past year.
Alcohol is incredibly popular and is likely to stay that way for a long time. It’s been used for centuries by people all over the world.
But is it safe to drink alcohol while using nootropics? That’s what we’re going to explore in this post. First, though, let’s look at what exactly alcohol is.
What is alcohol?
When talking about the type of alcohol that people drink, we’re talking about ethyl alcohol, aka ethanol. While there are other types of alcohol (isopropyl, aka rubbing alcohol, for example), we’ll be talking exclusively about ethanol, the type that people drink.
Ethyl alcohol has been consumed by people for thousands of years. It has a variety of physical and psychological effects and has been used both medically and recreationally.
Alcohol is a powerful antiseptic and can be used to clean wounds and sterilize medical equipment. It is also used as a medical solvent and as an antidote to methanol (another type of alcohol) and ethylene glycol poisoning.
Most commonly, though, alcohol is consumed for its recreational properties. Users often experience euphoria, decreased anxiety, sedation, and increased sociability. Alcohol use is also often accompanied by a number of side effects, including impaired cognitive functioning and a nasty hangover effect the next day.
The whole point of using nootropics is to improve cognitive functioning, not impair it. While alcohol can have some effects that nootropic users seek (increased sociability, reduced anxiety, improved mood), it’s not considered to be a smart drug. Between alcohol’s lengthy side effect profile and its potential for addiction, it wouldn’t meet even the most liberal definition of the word nootropic.
Still, nootropic users often consume alcohol in spite of its anti-nootropic properties. It’s widely used and socially acceptable. But is it safe to consume alcohol while using nootropics?
Nootropics and alcohol
In general, most nootropics do not have any serious interactions with alcohol. However, there are some interactions that users should be aware of.
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Mixing alcohol with other CNS depressants can increase these effects. It can slow your breathing and heart rate. In extreme cases, it can even cause coma and death.
Nootropics that act as CNS depressants should be used with caution when drinking alcohol. Fortunately, there aren’t any nootropics that work as powerful CNS depressants. However, some of them may have mildly sedating properties.
Lemon Balm & Valerian
Lemon balm and valerian root, two plants that are commonly used for sleep and relaxation, can be mildly sedating. They may increase alcohol’s effects. Caution should be used when combining them with alcohol.
L-theanine usually isn’t very sedating for most people. However, some users report that it can be at higher dosages. And some people report that, when combined with alcohol, l-theanine can make them incredibly drowsy. Again, use caution when combining alcohol with l-theanine.
Modafinil, Armodafinil, & Adrafinil
Another thing that is generally not advised is mixing stimulants with depressants. Although modafinil isn’t technically a stimulant, it does share some similarities to them. Some people find the combination to be unpleasant.
It should be noted, though, that some people actually enjoy mixing the two. Users report that, after taking modafinil, it takes longer to get drunk and that alcohol is less sedating, so it doesn’t put them to sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol also reverses most of modafinil’s nootropic effects.
This also applies to the other eugeroics, like armodafinil and adrafinil. Alcohol will reduce their nootropic effects and it will take more alcohol than usual to feel buzzed or drunk. Be aware of these interactions when using modafinil, armodafinil, or adrafinil.
Racetams (Piracetam, Oxiracetam, Aniracetam, Phenylpiracetam, etc.)
Generally, the racetams seem to be safe to use with alcohol. There are plenty of reports around the internet of people safely combining various racetams with alcohol.
Some racetams might even reduce some of the negative effects of alcohol. One study found that piracetam was able to reduce alcohol-induced memory deficits. Another study found that piracetam was able to reduce the severity of alcohol withdrawal in mice without causing sedation like current treatments do.
There haven’t been many studies done on racetams and alcohol, but the few that have been done look promising. This is an area of research that will hopefully someday be expanded upon.
Most racetams seem to be safe to take with alcohol and may even help to reduce some of alcohol’s negative effects. Still, it’s always a good idea to use caution when combining them.
It’s probably safe to drink alcohol while using most nootropics. Still, you should be careful, especially with any nootropics that have the potential to be sedating.
One example of this would be the nootropic plant, ashwagandha. There are many reports of people drinking alcohol while taking it regularly who don’t notice any interactions. However, some people find that alcohol is more sedating when they are taking ashwagandha.
Another interaction that is rare but has been reported is between kratom and alcohol. Some people find that drinking after taking kratom makes them extremely nauseous. However, many people use the two without issue and even enjoy the combo.
In general, most nootropics seem to be safe for most people to use with alcohol. Some may even reduce alcohol’s side effects. But, always do your research and check before mixing any two substances.
Most of the popular nootropics being used today should be safe to use with alcohol. There are countless reports of people mixing various nootropics with alcohol and serious interactions are very rarely reported. That being said, you should always err on the side of caution and exercise good judgment.