If you’ve heard about kratom, you have probably also heard conflicting reports on what it is and whether kratom abuse and addiction is something to worry about.
The Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that kratom is derived from a tree found in Southeast Asia. The tree leaves are harvested at maturity, then dried and ground into a fine powder. 1
Kratom has been traditionally used throughout Southeast Asia as a medicinal herb and natural stimulant. It then made its way into the United States and has become a popular recreational drug. Because it is a natural, plant-based substance, many people believe it is safe and does not pose any serious health risks or have the potential for addiction.
There are several health risks associated with kratom use, including potential dependence on the plant. Studies confirm that regular users of kratom can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. 2
Withdrawal symptoms are considered to be a sign of dependence. The main kratom compounds activate the same opioid receptors (brain neurotransmitters) as other types of substances.
Improper kratom use can lead to unwanted consequences, including the need for addiction treatment. We will delve into some of the most common myths about kratom below.
Supporters of kratom substance use state that the addiction potential is zero, while some opponents compare it to synthetic opioids, which are extremely addictive. The actual truth is somewhere in the middle.
The most widely studied kratom compounds are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Both of these compounds activate opioid receptors in the brain, but not as strongly as opioids like oxycodone or heroin.
Kratom Addiction Leads to Detox
Regular users experience mild to moderate kratom detox symptoms when they stop using the substance.
Kratom Cravings and Dependence Occur
While the physical symptoms of kratom addiction may not be severe for most people, the psychological symptoms can be more impactful. Some users report feeling a strong need or craving to experience the sense of euphoria they feel when using kratom.
Physical dependence is also a concern with kratom abuse. Because kratom alters normal brain chemistry, more frequent and larger doses become necessary to achieve the wanted effects. Increasing the tolerance to any substance can lead to physical dependence.
The legal status of kratom is in flux. The DEA lists kratom as a “drug and chemical of concern,” but it is not listed on the U.S. schedule of controlled substances.
Some states currently list kratom as an illegal substance. Other cities and counties have banned it, and some states have pending legislation on its legality. Even in states where it is legal to buy kratom, there are some regulations for legal use.
Some people believe that kratom will ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. There are FDA-approved prescription medications available for that purpose, but “kratom therapy” is more easily available for many people, and it does not require a prescription.
However, research shows that kratom therapy has no clear benefits for those trying to recover from opioid addiction. One study involved a group of people who used kratom for over six months as a treatment for opioid withdrawal. This group reported having little or no relief from their withdrawal symptoms. 3
The fact is there are many risks associated with kratom overdose. Consuming excessive amounts of the substance can cause psychosis, seizures, comas, or even delusions and hallucinations.
The risks of a kratom overdose become even more serious if the substance is consumed with alcohol or other drugs. Because kratom causes both sedative and stimulant effects, the drug is considered unpredictable, with the potential to cause extreme danger if mixed with other drugs. 4
The belief that there are no kratom side effects because it is “natural” is dangerous. Many plants have unwanted side effects.
Kratom Side Effects
Some of the known side effects of kratom include:
Kratom is a fast-acting substance, meaning you can feel the effects within ten minutes. While it is not yet known what level of kratom is considered toxic, taking an excessive amount can cause serious and even deadly side effects.
Individuals with an addiction to kratom crave it and experience withdrawal symptoms if they go too long between doses. It is also possible for those addicted to kratom to build a tolerance, which leads to physical dependence and eventually needing to take higher doses to achieve the same effects as before.
Kratom addiction symptoms can include:
Some people may not realize they have developed an addiction to kratom. If this is the case, they may not recognize the above kratom addiction symptoms as a problem.
Experts agree that the symptoms of kratom addiction are not as severe as withdrawal from other types of opioids. However, they may still be severe, depending on the person and the amount of the drug that was consumed. Kratom withdrawal symptoms include:
The withdrawal timeline can vary but follows a similar pattern of progression. Acute symptoms last four to seven days. Once the worst physical symptoms abate, people may continue to suffer psychological symptoms such as cravings, depression, and anxiety for many weeks or months.
Addiction to kratom is not only possible, but it is also a serious risk to a person’s physical and physiological health if they are greatly missing this substance. It’s important to know the health risks involved and know how to get the help you or a loved one might need if a dependence to the drug has started. Kratom addiction can develop slowly over time but knowing the signs and symptoms can help.
Kratom addiction treatment options include supervised detox, therapy, medications, and aftercare to help patients transition into a life free of kratom abuse. Some aftercare programs include support groups, along with outpatient programs as well if the patient still needs a structured plan.
If you or someone you care about are experiencing kratom addiction signs and need the support of a kratom addiction treatment center, get help now at Genesis Recovery. Call us today to utilize our supportive and patient-based care system that will give you the help you need.