Kratom is a plan that’s native to the Asian continent. In recent years it’s found its way over to the US. It has been used in Asian countries as medicine for several centuries at this point. However, it’s also gotten a reputation as a recreational drug. Its introduction to North America saw slow adoption. Numbers gradually swelled until kratom addiction became a severe social problem. Kratom rehab became a vital recovery path for many individuals.
Drug enforcement has seen great successes in controlling the spread of the substance. Unfortunately, it’s still effortless for anyone to purchase it online. This ease of use and lack of criminality makes it an ideal gateway drug. It’s still marketed as a stimulant and even used in drinks in bars and cafes. This casual acceptance increases the risk of getting individuals addicted to the drug.
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. 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.
The FDA has issued a warning on its website against using kratom. Unfortunately, the warning isn’t 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 Marshalls to seize imports that demonstrate the drug as an ingredient. For those that are already beholden to the drug, it might be too little too late. Luckily, there are ways back from 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. It’s generally found in stores as an herbal supplement. Thanks to 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 isn’t enough data available to determine whether it’s safe for human use. Unfortunately, many people who take the substance have become addicted to it. It has the side effect of causing cravings and withdrawal symptoms when users can’t get it.
Kratom is a fast-acting drug. 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. Unfortunately, it may display the same addictive qualities of opioids as well.
Understanding Kratom Use, Abuse, and Addiction
Since most states haven’t criminalized the drug, it’s 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. Bars can even offer the drink in powdered form or infused into a drink. 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. The drug doesn’t show up on these tests. For people who want to get a narcotic fix and not worry about their upcoming drug tests, kratom is an attractive alternative. Thailand has long since banned the substance, but 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 and then eventually become dependent on it.
Dependence on a substance isn’t the same thing as addiction. The terms are similar and linked but 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. 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. Among these are:
- Change in appearance: Weight loss and lack of personal hygiene
- Rapid mood swings: Their behavior shifts from calm to excited, or depression to aggression when on the drug
- Irregular sleep patterns: The individual may sleep more often or have weird sleeping hours
- Irresponsibility: The individual neglects essential obligations, which results in a decline in performance at work or school
- Increase in risk-taking behaviors: The person suffering from kratom abuse demonstrate more and more risky behavior as time goes by
- Financial strain: In their search for the drug, the person spends more money and earns less as a result of more of their time being dedicated to the drug
- Legal issues: As they search for less conventional ways of getting the drug, they end up in legal troubles, which take up time and money
Kratom and The Human Brain
As mentioned previously, 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 relieving pain. Mitragynine, on its own, is responsible for the stimulant effect that kratom displays. It’s usually the interaction with the opioid receptors that lead to dependence on the substance. That’s where breaking the reliance on the drug also starts.
The Risk of Overdose
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. From 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.
Getting Help from Kratom Rehab Centers
Kratom addiction follows the same general treatment pattern as other types of addiction treatment. At kratom recovery centers, the treatment pattern looks at physical stabilization, therapy, and recovery, in that order.
In this phase, the person checks into the kratom rehab center and goes through detox. 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. These symptoms are generally the same as opioid addiction but are not as severe in most cases. There are occasions where patients have gone through withdrawal similar to those you’d get from opioid recoverees. It all depends on the dependence level. 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 recoveree remains out of medical danger while going thru the process.
Some rehab centers utilize medicine to help deal with withdrawal. Additionally, abusing other drugs alongside kratom creates some dangerous cross-interactions. Medical and mental trauma can also have a significant impact on detoxification. Having medical personnel trained to deal with emergencies ensures that the recovering person remains safe through their detoxification. While some individuals prefer to detoxify at home, the process is much safer when done under the supervision of this medical personnel. Because of this, finding the right rehab center is crucial.
Therapy is the start of dealing with the addiction. Many kratom rehab centers offer residential (inpatient) or outpatient settings for therapy. For individuals that have a severe dependence on the drug, the residential location is the better choice. In the residential environment, the rehab center allows the recoveree to stay at the facility. While there, they can leave behind 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.
Outpatient therapy is the other option. For those who still have some control over their urges, outpatient therapy might be the better option. In this setting, the recoveree comes to therapy sessions but doesn’t remain at the facility. This freedom of movement allows them to retain their social and professional lives. However, they will be responsible for staying off the drug. It’s a responsibility that many who suffer from substance use disorder are unable to maintain.
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. Through this recognition, a person can 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. Support groups, both family and otherwise, can also help in this regard.
Finding Kratom Rehab Centers
Since kratom addiction isn’t as prevalent in the US as other drugs, it may be challenging to locate a specialized center for treating it. Many opioid recovery centers usually have specialized kratom programs that recoverees can depend on. Since the recovery steps are the same, recoverees can benefit from the program offered closest to their location. These facilities are already well-equipped to deal with substance use disorder. Finding the right kratom recovery center doesn’t 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. Consult Find Addiction Rehabs today to find out more and locate a rehab center that’s close to you. Check us out today!