What is Kratom?
Table of Contents
- What is Kratom?
- Kratom Use in the United States
- How Does Kratom Interact With the Human Body?
- Understanding Kratom Use, Abuse, and Addiction
- The Difference Between Dependence and Addiction
- Recognizing the Signs of Kratom Addiction
- Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
- Kratom Addiction Treatment Methods and Options
- Top Kratom Rehab Centers: Found Here!
- Medically Reviewed By
Kratom is a plant that is native to Southeast Asia, although in recent years it has found its way over to the US. Kratom has been used in Asian countries as a medicine for several centuries. However, it has also developed a reputation for being used as a recreational drug.
The introduction of this drug to North America saw a slow adoption, with numbers gradually swelling until kratom addiction became a severe social problem. As a result, kratom rehab became a vital recovery path for many individuals.
While the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has helped to control the spread of this substance, it can still be purchased online and through other sources with relative ease. Unfortunately, it is this ease of use and lack of criminality that makes it an ideal gateway drug.
Currently, kratom is still marketed as a stimulant, often used in drinks in bars and cafes, or as a natural supplement. This casual acceptance increases the risk of getting individuals addicted to the drug.
Keep reading to find out all about kratom, kratom addiction, and what makes an effective kratom rehab setting!
Kratom Use in the United States
The journal Preventative Medicine notes that kratom impacts an estimated ten to fifteen million people in the US. It was introduced to some as a method of quitting opioids. However, instead of allowing an individual to leave their addiction behind, it simply replaced the drug.
Because of its use as a painkiller, many have employed it to help manage pain. Kratom possession is only criminalized in six states, making it easy to obtain in several forms. Users usually avail themselves of the substance in the form of teas, pills, or extracts.
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on its website against using kratom, it is not widely publicized, and many current users may not know the threats it poses. The FDA warns that kratom interacts with the same receptors in the brain as opioids.
The administration further states that they have no approved uses for the drug. They have also directed The US Marshals to seize imports of kratom. Fortunately for those that already struggle with this form of drug abuse, there are ways of treating kratom addiction.
How Does Kratom Interact With the Human Body?
Specifically, most people who use kratom do so for chronic pain or as a stimulant. Some utilize it as a mood enhancer. Kratom is generally found as an herbal supplement. With its packaging and compelling advertising, many people hunting for new supplements end up taking the drug.
Despite the advertising, science is still unsure about the substance. There simply is not enough data available to determine whether it is safe for human use. Unfortunately, many people who take the substance end up developing a drug addiction.
With this substance abuse, an inability to access kratom can cause cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, kratom is a fast-acting drug, meaning it usually only takes about ten minutes after consuming the drug for the user to experience a high.
Some reports state that this stimulant-induced high may last up to five hours in some cases. The dosage taken determines how it will affect the body. At low doses, it works as a stimulant. The user feels a surge of energy.
Recreational tea bars that offer kratom-infused concoctions advertise it as an energy booster. At higher doses is where kratom gets dangerous. It can serve as a pain blocker and sedative at higher concentrations.
It functions similarly to opioids, competing for pain receptor slots, which is why kratom is often used to treat those struggling with an opioid use disorder. Unfortunately, this interaction is what may cause kratom to display the same addictive qualities of opioid drugs as well.
Kratom and The Human Brain
Kratom can have similar effects to both stimulants and opioids. Two major chemicals within kratom cause these responses. 7-α-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine both interact with the opioid receptors in the brain, causing feelings of euphoria and helping to relieve pain.
It is this interaction that has led kratom to be used to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, as it is seen as a “safer” drug. This has made it an attractive way to help ease the transition from abusing opioids to being drug-free for many recovering individuals.
Mitragynine, on its own, is responsible for the stimulant effect that kratom displays. It is usually the interaction with the opioid receptors that lead to dependence on the substance. Of course, this is where breaking the reliance on this drug also starts.
Understanding Kratom Use, Abuse, and Addiction
Since most states have not criminalized the drug, it is still a “legal” way of getting high. Many people simply ignore the FDA warnings on the subject and take the drug as they see fit. This includes its accessibility through bars that offer the drug in powdered form or infused into drinks.
Its popularity in Thailand has seen it make its way into Thai-themed cocktails quickly enough. Kratom is also a “safer” drug for individuals working in fields where random drug testing is regularly performed, as it does not show up on these tests.
For people who want to get a narcotic fix and still receive negative drug tests, kratom is an attractive – but certainly not safe – alternative. While Thailand has long since banned the substance, the West seems slow in catching up to their lead.
The lack of research into the drug still has a few places considering its use. Even though it can be addictive, some people are willing to take the chance. Marketers tout the extract as “natural” and “organic,” drawing people into using it.
When this happens, they start using the drug casually, eventually becoming dependent on it. This dependence, unfortunately, will generally lead individuals to develop a full-blown addiction to kratom; one, of which, will require professional addiction treatment services to overcome.
The Difference Between Dependence and Addiction
Dependence on a substance is not the same thing as addiction. While the terms are similar and linked, they have distinct differences in definition. Dependence happens when someone uses or abuses a drug so much that it causes significant changes to their brain chemistry.
Addiction is a brain disease, of which dependence is an acute symptom. However, this disorder will also present various other symptoms alongside incessant substance abuse, and will need various substance abuse treatment methods to overcome.
Recognizing the Signs of Kratom Addiction
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) notes that an addicted person demonstrates drug-seeking behavior without regard to the consequences of their actions.
Their compulsiveness in doing this means most of their time is spent in acquiring and using those drugs. In studies undertaken using subjects in southeast Asia, long-term kratom abuse was seen to bring severe mental illness and withdrawal symptoms with it.
Among the typical symptoms of dependence on kratom are insomnia, muscle aches, and irritability. More severe symptoms include paranoia, depression, hallucinations, and reduced cognition.
Addiction to the drug also carries with it several behavioral, emotional, and social changes within the addicted individual. Among these are:
- Changes in appearance, such as weight loss and/or a lack of personal hygiene.
- Rapid mood swings or other mental health problems, characterized by their behavior rapidly shifting from calm to excited, or depression to aggression when on the drug.
- Irregular sleep patterns, such as sleeping more often or having weird sleeping hours.
- Irresponsibility, including the neglect of essential obligations, which results in a decline in performance at work, home, or school.
- Increase in risk-taking behaviors, such as the person demonstrating higher tendencies to engage in potentially dangerous activities as a result of their drug abuse.
- Financial strain, characterized by the person spending more money and time on continuing their substance abuse.
- Legal issues, often caused by the addicted person’s search for less conventional and often illegal ways of getting the drug.
The Risk of Overdose from Kratom
Is there a risk of someone dying from overdosing on kratom? The journal Clinical Toxicology notes that there were eleven deaths associated with kratom between 2011 and 2017. Of these deaths, only two of them involved exposure to kratom alone.
The other nine were associated with individuals who had taken kratom in combination with something else. The FDA notes that many deaths related to kratom use come from abusing kratom combined with another substance.
Among the most common drugs abused alongside kratom are heroin, cocaine, opioids, and benzodiazepines. While this combined drug abuse can result in a number of dangerous side effects, a potentially fatal overdose is one of the most severe.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
Many people recovering from a Kratom addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms, which can make overcoming their drug abuse incredibly difficult. For those with more severe addictions, this can even feel impossible.
It is these withdrawal symptoms that will often require individuals to seek out various addiction treatment options when trying to beat their habits of substance abuse, as these can help ease and even prevent many of the physical and psychological symptoms of kratom withdrawal.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
While rarely life-threatening, many of the physical side effects of Kratom withdrawal will be extremely uncomfortable, and cause further complications if not properly managed. These may include:
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rate
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dilated pupils
- Blurred vision
- Jerky movements and muscle aches
- Mood swings
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
A person may also likely experience a series of psychological symptoms along with physical ones during their kratom withdrawal period, including:
- Sudden mood changes
The onset of these symptoms will vary based on the person’s last use of Kratom. The first of these symptoms will generally show up between twelve and twenty-four hours after taking their last dose of kratom.
These will typically be more moderate symptoms. Long-term and more severe withdrawal symptoms, however, can begin to develop after a few days of stopping kratom use, and may take weeks to fade.
Kratom Addiction Treatment Methods and Options
Kratom addiction follows the same general treatment pattern as other types of addiction treatment. At kratom recovery centers, the recovery treatment process looks at physical stabilization, therapy, and long-term recovery, in that order.
For most people, their recovery process will begin with them checking into a rehab facility and going through a kratom detox program. During detoxification, the person gets all of the drugs out of their system.
Unfortunately, because of the body’s dependence on kratom, withdrawal symptoms usually follow. As discussed, these symptoms are generally the same as those experienced during withdrawal from opioid addiction but are not as severe in most cases.
The size of the person’s last dose and how long ago they took it will impact how severe the withdrawal is and its duration. Rehab centers usually have staff on hand to deal with these symptoms and ensure that the person remains out of medical danger during this process.
When participating in a kratom detox program, this may include the utilization of medicine to help deal with withdrawal. This is particularly useful for those recovering from dual substance abuse, as abusing other drugs alongside kratom creates some dangerous cross-interactions.
Co-occurring disorders, whether they are medical or mental health-related, can also have a significant impact on successful kratom detox. Having medical personnel trained to deal with emergencies ensures that the recovering person remains safe through their detoxification.
While some individuals prefer to attempt kratom detox at home by themselves, the process is much safer when done under the supervision of medical personnel. Because of this, finding the right kratom treatment center is crucial.
Substance Abuse Treatment and Therapy Services
Therapy is a core part of the drug addiction treatment process. Many kratom rehab centers offer residential (inpatient) rehab settings or an outpatient program for recovery. For individuals that have a severe dependence on the drug, an inpatient treatment provider may be best.
Residential treatment centers allow recovering individuals to live at the facility throughout the duration of their treatment process. While there, they can leave behind the stress and temptations of the outside world and focus on recovery.
The lack of external stimulus that may lead them into relapse can significantly boost their drive to succeed. Unfortunately, staying at an inpatient facility usually means remaining isolated from society for some amount of time.
For those in need of more financial and time-flexible treatment options, outpatient rehab may be a better recovery choice. Of course, this will require an extensive amount of self-discipline, and a reliable support network to help keep the person on track with their recovery.
In this setting, the recipient will participate in various behavioral therapies and addiction support groups at their designated treatment center, but does not live at the facility. This freedom of movement allows them to retain their social and professional lives.
Whether participating in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, these may involve participating in various therapeutic services to help address underlying mental health conditions, including:
- Individual therapy sessions
- Group therapy sessions
- Family therapy sessions
- Sober support and recovery groups
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Kratom Addiction Treatment
A prevalent and valuable method of therapy is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). At its heart, this therapy method focuses on helping the individual recognize their harmful behavior and trace the thoughts that lead to these destructive or dangerous actions.
Other therapy methods focus on talking about the past to develop one’s personality into the future. CBT tends to have a greater rate of recovery than other therapy methods because of how it works.
Because someone can spot the thoughts that lead to adverse actions, they can avoid having those thoughts. Even if those thoughts happen, they can head off the behavior before it causes trouble.
Recovery comes from a long-term return to society. When recovering, a person may want to avoid a particular location or stimulus. As they get further along the road to recovery, the draw of the substance and the people who use it have less of a hold on them.
Eventually, they can think about those situations objectively and avoid them without help from others. Support groups can help a recovering person stay off a substance over the long term. It helps to give their life structure and eventually allows them to stand on their own.
These are often included in a person’s aftercare treatment plan and can help them remain motivated and dedicated to their recovery process, as well as help involve their family, friends, and other loved ones in this journey.
Top Kratom Rehab Centers: Found Here!
Since kratom addiction is not as prevalent in the US as other drugs, it may be challenging to locate a specialized center for treating it. A growing number of opioid recovery centers usually have specialized kratom programs that recovering individuals can depend on.
Since the recovery steps are the same, you or your loved one can benefit from a program offered closest to your location. These facilities are already well-equipped to deal with substance use disorders.
Finding the right kratom recovery center does not have to be a hassle. You just need a trusted location to give you all the kratom programs and other associated opioid recovery programs nearby.
That is why the Find Addiction Rehabs hotline is available 24/7 to connect you or your loved one with a kratom addiction treatment provider that can serve all of your personal care needs.
Consult with our recovery representatives to find out more about your treatment options and locate a rehab center that is close to you. By calling now, we can help you take the first step on your road to recovery, where you can finally become kratom-free, today!
Bryan was born in Philadelphia and remains an ardent supporter of Philadelphia sports. After attending FSU and FAU where he majored in writing, Bryan ventured out to follow in the footsteps of his idols, running straight into drug addiction. After being arrested by the President’s Secret Service, Bryan finally started to rebuild his life and beat that monkey off of his back through writing, playing music, and studying Buddhist philosophy.
Despite still having the occasional struggles with mental health, Bryan strives to be a little bit better a person each day. With the support and love from a loyal family, and kind-hearted and generous friends, Bryan tries to help people vanquish their own personal demons as he did and bring more love and beauty into a pessimistic world.