What Is Kratom?
Table of Contents
- What Is Kratom?
- How Is Kratom Used?
- How Does Kratom Affect the Body?
- Kratom and Opioid Withdrawal
- What Makes Kratom Addictive?
- How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Kratom?
- Kratom Addiction Versus Opioid Addiction
- What are the Side Effects of Kratom Use & Abuse?
- Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
- Can You Overdose on Kratom?
- The Road to Kratom Recovery
- Find The Right Rehab for Kratom Addiction Here
Derived from the Kratom tree native to Southeast Asia, Kratom is an herbal substance that can act both as both a stimulant and an opioid and is becoming increasingly popular across the United States. As a result, many have found out for themselves about the nature of kratom addiction.
While it has not yet made its way onto any federal schedules for controlled substances, this does not mean it is completely safe to use.
In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed Kratom as a Drug and Chemical of Concern, as it can become addictive if used irresponsibly. Unfortunately, most people are not aware that this warning exists.
Keep reading to find out all about kratom addiction and the most effective ways of treating dependence!
How Is Kratom Used?
Kratom is most commonly ingested orally, usually in the form of a tablet, capsule, or extract. Individuals may also choose to chew on Kratom leaves, or dry them and turn them into powders. This Kratom powder can then be smoked or brewed into teas.
This form of Kratom use has become a popular practice at several bars and cafes in the U.S. and is one of the traditional methods of ingestion in Southeast Asia.
Kratom may also be used as a dietary supplement or as an herbal alternative to other substances that can boost focus and energy. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved kratom as having an accepted medical use or dietary benefit.
How Does Kratom Affect the Body?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Kratom leaves contain the chemical compounds mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which activate mu-receptors in the nerve cells of the brain.
Mitragynine can also bind to adrenergic receptors, serotonin receptors, and dopamine receptors. These main Kratom compounds are likely what causes the arousing and euphoric effects that can occur with its use.
This interaction is similar to that of opioids binding with opioid receptors in the brain, making them useful for chronic pain relief. However, this means that, while not as addictive as opioids, Kratom still poses the risk of developing a physical dependence on this substance.
Kratom and Opioid Withdrawal
Kratom has recently been promoted as an effective tool for treating individuals with opioid use disorders. When overcoming this particular drug addiction, individuals may experience intense, and even life-threatening, opioid withdrawal symptoms.
In these cases, Kratom may be used to ease these symptoms due to its ability to produce euphoric and soothing effects similar to those caused by opioids. However, there is little to no evidence supporting this theory.
In fact, studies have found that the use of Kratom as a form of addiction treatment may actually cause more issues than it does solve them. Furthermore, people who use kratom over extended periods of time may end up developing a dependency on this substance.
As a result, they may experience drug cravings and other symptoms of withdrawal similar to those experienced when attempting to quit using opioids. This may also apply to infants born to a mother who used Kratom during pregnancy.
What Makes Kratom Addictive?
Because this drug is typically marketed as an herbal supplement, most people are not aware of the possibility that they can develop a Kratom dependency by using it. Furthermore, Kratom is not popularly recognized as posing a risk of drug abuse.
Thus, many individuals may turn to this substance for its pleasurable effects as an alternative to more obviously dangerous substances. However, Kratom’s effects make it quite easy to begin using this substance more frequently and in greater doses.
This, of course, will ultimately result in Kratom dependence. Furthermore, because it is such a readily available substance, there is little to nothing standing in the way of someone continuing their Kratom abuse.
How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Kratom?
When using any sort of mind-altering substance over long periods of time, this form of drug abuse will eventually result in the altering of the chemical makeup of a person’s brain; changes which may be permanent if not addressed properly or quickly enough.
When people first start using Kratom, they usually do so in low doses. This can cause a boost in their energy levels, as well as help them better focus on tasks and responsibilities.
Of course, in an attempt to enhance these effects, people may begin using Kratom more frequently and in higher doses. These larger doses of Kratom use typically leads to substance abuse. Thus, drug dependence, particularly if combined with other drug interactions, can occur rapidly.
On average, it can take as little as six months of using this drug to become addicted to it. However, if a person immediately begins using higher doses of Kratom, this dependence can develop in a far smaller window of time.
Kratom Addiction Versus Opioid Addiction
Kratom addiction is linked partially to its use as a means of managing opiate addiction. While this drug can be effective in managing opioid withdrawal symptoms and overcoming this form of substance abuse, this often results in the development of a Kratom addiction in its place.
While some people may see swapping these substance use disorders as an acceptable trade-off, it is absolutely not necessary. There are several substance abuse treatment options available for opioid abuse that do not involve the use of another addictive substance.
Furthermore, while perhaps not as life-threatening as opioid addiction, Kratom abuse can certainly result in several negative consequences and risky behaviors. Thus, it is best to avoid using this substance altogether.
What are the Side Effects of Kratom Use & Abuse?
There are several negative side effects that can occur when using Kratom, several of which may require medical attention. Opposite to the energy boost, smaller amounts of this drug can cause, larger doses of Kratom can make users feel sedated and drowsy.
Other unpleasant side effects may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Increased urination
- Abnormally high heart rate (tachycardia)
- Loss of appetite
Compulsive substance use involving Kratom has also resulted in individuals developing anorexia and experiencing weight loss, insomnia, liver damage, and seizures.
Furthermore, several cases in which individuals have experienced symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations, delusion, and confusion, have also been reported.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
Many people recovering from a Kratom addiction report experiencing withdrawal symptoms similar to those of opioid withdrawal. Some of the physical side effects of Kratom withdrawal may include:
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rate
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dilated pupils
- Blurred vision
- Jerky movements and muscle aches
- Mood swings
A person may also likely experience a series of psychological symptoms along with physical ones during this form of substance withdrawal, including:
- Sudden mood changes
The onset of these symptoms is based on the person’s last use of Kratom, with the first of these typically showing up between twelve and twenty-four hours after their last dose. These will typically be more moderate withdrawal symptoms.
Long-term and more intense symptoms, however, may begin to develop within a few days of this and may take weeks to dissipate.
Can You Overdose on Kratom?
With Kratom’s addictive potential, this drug is also completely capable of causing serious harm; including, unfortunately, a risk of overdose. Unfortunately, there have been several reported cases of Kratom-related deaths in the U.S.
Within the year 2019 alone, nearly 100 drug-related deaths involved Kratom use, whether solely or in combination with other drugs.
This is also a particularly significant risk for individuals who relapse after initially recovering from a Kratom addiction. It is very common for these people to immediately start using a high dose of this drug, which their body is no longer accustomed to; thus, increasing their risk of overdose.
Signs that a person may be overdosing on Kratom may include:
If these symptoms start showing up in a regular kratom user, it may be time to contact a doctor. While kratom may not lead to death on its own, there’s no telling what other drugs have been mixed with it. Emergencies like these will require professional medical help.
The Road to Kratom Recovery
Recovering from kratom addiction takes time, but it is absolutely worth doing so. Many Kratom users will realize the detrimental effect of this drug on their life at some point. Once this realization has been achieved, they can finally start their recovery process.
Treating addiction can be tricky on your own. In order to be effective, treatment should take place in a professional environment, where these individuals can receive the recovery support they need to overcome their addiction as safely and successfully as possible.
A medically supervised detox program is a treatment approach to alcohol and drug addiction designed to help manage intense withdrawal periods. This is done through providing constant supervision from highly-trained medical staff, and dietary planning.
Individuals withdrawing from Kratom will likely require the clinical structure and support of a detox program in order to successfully achieve and maintain abstinence from it. Many times, when individuals attempt to detox at home, withdrawal becomes too much to bear.
In a Kratom detox program, the constant medical supervision and secure environments these rehab facilities provide can help prevent relapse. This may also include the administration of certain medications that can further help manage and prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Inpatient Treatment Options
Usually the next step in treatment following detox, inpatient programs are typically the most structured and effective treatment options for those overcoming a substance use disorder.
These treatment centers require individuals to live on-site so that they can receive constant care and support while recovering from substance abuse. Inpatient treatment may also provide mental health services, such as therapy and counseling.
This is because mental health conditions and addiction often go hand-in-hand, as many people struggling with mental disorders may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating the negative thoughts and emotions these may cause.
While this form of addiction treatment will require a major time commitment and can be on the pricier side, they are absolutely a person’s best bet at successfully achieving and maintaining abstinence from their Kratom dependence.
Outpatient Treatment Options
If someone is unable to afford or devote the amount of time necessary for inpatient treatment, they may want to consider seeking out outpatient options instead.
Whether these be partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, or other outpatient recovery programs, these can offer individuals a more flexible approach to addiction recovery. These may include scheduled meetings with a counselor, therapist, or other medical providers.
Individuals may also participate in recovery support groups and vocational skill training services, as well as gain access to tools and resources that can better help them to maintain healthy habits while leading independent, sober lives.
Find The Right Rehab for Kratom Addiction Here
At Find Addiction Rehabs, we understand how difficult it can be to recognize when you or a loved one might be struggling with addiction, especially when it comes to substances like Kratom.
Because this drug is widely misunderstood, it is all too easy to fall into a toxic cycle of abuse with it. But you are not alone, and this cycle can be broken.
Our hotline is available 24/7, so that one of our representatives can connect you with recovery resources and support, anytime you need it. We can find a treatment center that is dedicated to meeting all of your personal care needs.
So don’t wait; call today, and take the first step to overcoming addiction and unlocking your future of sobriety!
Charles F. has been an active part of the Florida recovery community for over 5 years. He began as a behavioral health technician at an addiction treatment facility in Ocala, Florida and has since begun training as a Licensed Addiction and Chemical Dependency counselor in Boca Raton. Charles’ passion involves the promotion of recovery and helping spread the hope of recovery to as many readers as possible!