Is Kratom Addictive?
Kratom is an herbal substance that can act as a stimulant or provide pain relief, similar to opioids. It’s legal in many places, but in the U.S., authorities are still figuring out the rules based on emerging evidence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is open to studying its potential benefits, but the FDA hasn’t given its approval for any medicinal uses yet.
Kratom can be addictive as it contains compounds that interact with the brain’s opioid receptors, leading to dependence. Regular and prolonged use may result in tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and a potential for addiction. It’s crucial for individuals considering kratom use to be aware of these risks and exercise caution.
At We Level Up New Jersey, we understand the challenges of substance use disorder and offer specialized detox programs to help manage and overcome kratom addiction. Our center is staffed with qualified and trained professionals in drug addiction and mental health, providing comprehensive treatment in a safe and supportive environment. Call today for your free no-hassle evaluation.
What is Kratom Used For?
Kratom is a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that hold compounds that can have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. Most people take kratom as a pill, capsule, or extract.
Some people chew kratom leaves or brew the dried or powdered leaves as tea. Sometimes, the leaves are smoked or eaten in food. Kratom’s effects are comparable to those of opioid drugs like morphine and heroin. Although kratom has been used as a treatment for opioid addiction, it can be addictive and may lead to relapse.
Kratom is not currently a banned substance and has been easy to order on the internet. It is sometimes sold as a green powder in packets marked “not for human consumption.” It is also sometimes sold as an extract or gum.
Kratom, a nearly unknown herb among physicians in the Western world, is advertised on the internet as an alternative to opioid analgesics, a potential treatment for opioid withdrawal, and a “legal high” with the least addiction potential. Physicians in the United States should be informed of the growing availability and misuse of kratom and the herb’s potential adverse health effects, with particular awareness of kratom’s toxicity, addictive potential, and linked withdrawal syndrome.
Dangers of Kratom Addiction
Like other drugs with opioid-like effects, kratom might cause dependency, suggesting users will feel physical withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue taking the drug. Unfortunately, some users have reported becoming addicted to kratom.
There have been multiple reports of deaths in people who had ingested kratom, but most have involved other substances. A 2019 paper analyzing data from the National Poison Data System found that between 2011-2017 there were 11 deaths correlated with kratom exposure. Nine of the 11 deaths reported in this study involved kratom plus other drugs and medications, such as diphenhydramine (an antihistamine), alcohol, caffeine, benzodiazepines, fentanyl, and cocaine. Two deaths were reported following exposure to kratom alone with no other registered substances.
In 2017, the FDA identified at least 44 deaths linked to kratom, with at least one case investigating pure kratom’s potential use. The FDA reports note that many of the kratom-associated deaths looked to have resulted from contaminated products or taking kratom with other potent substances, including illicit drugs, opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, gabapentin, and over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup.
Also, some reports of kratom packaged as dietary supplements or dietary ingredients that were laced with other compounds that caused deaths. People should check with their healthcare providers about the safety of blending kratom with other medications.
Signs of Kratom Addiction
Healthcare or addiction treatment professionals can check for symptoms and problems linked to kratom use, like dependence, withdrawal, or possible adverse effects on physical or mental health.
Kratom addiction signs and symptoms may include the following:
- Changes in Mood: Mood swings, anxiety, depression, or irritability.
- Changes in Behavior: Acting secretive, aggressive, or violent.
- Changes in Physical Appearance: Red eyes or kratom eye wobbles, weight loss or weight gain, poor hygiene.
- Health Issues: Reduction of energy, fatigue, and chronic illnesses related to drug use.
- Changes in Social Activities: Withdrawal from friends or family, relationship problems, new friendships with identified drug users.
- Poor School or Work Performance: A decline in grades or work performance, loss of a job, disinterest in school or work, skipping school or work frequently.
- Money or Legal Problems: Asking for money without a reasonable explanation, stealing from friends or family, and being arrested.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
Quitting kratom might cause mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms in some people, according to studies. The most common symptoms of withdrawal from kratom may include the following:
- Muscle throbbings.
- Emotional fluctuations.
- Runny nose.
- Jerky movements.
Kratom withdrawal refers to the set of symptoms that some individuals may experience when they stop using kratom, an herbal substance known for its stimulant and pain-relieving effects. Understanding and managing these withdrawal effects is crucial for individuals considering taking kratom or discontinuation of kratom use.
How Long Does Kratom Withdrawal Last? Timeline Chart
Kratom withdrawal, while uncomfortable, is generally not considered life-threatening. However, individuals experiencing severe symptoms or those with underlying health issues should seek medical attention to ensure a safe and supportive withdrawal process.
|Time After Last Dose
|Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
|Onset of symptoms, cravings
|Peak symptoms, including irritability, aches
|Up to 1 week
|Acute withdrawal phase
|Beyond 1 week
|Gradual decrease in symptoms, potential lingering effects
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Risk of Kratom Addiction
Regular use of kratom may lead to dependence, where the body gets used to having it. When someone stops using kratom, withdrawal symptoms may occur, causing cravings to ease these symptoms. Using higher doses, more than 5 grams a day and three times daily, increases the risk of dependence.
Kratom users need to understand these risks, especially if they take higher doses regularly. Seeking professional advice and keeping track of usage can help manage dependence and address any related difficulties.
How Addictive is Kratom?
While researchers explore kratom’s effects, interactions, and therapeutic uses, some experts are concerned about its potential for addiction because its main compounds activate brain receptors linked to addictive drugs.
However, early studies suggest that kratom’s activation of these receptors might reduce the risk of addiction compared to opioids. Some people use kratom to alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms from opioids and stimulants. Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health’s HEAL Initiatives aims to develop new medications, including kratom-derived products, for chronic pain, opioid withdrawal, and opioid use disorder.
In cases of kratom addiction, seeking help is crucial for a safe and effective recovery. Professional guidance and support can provide tailored strategies to manage withdrawal symptoms, address underlying issues, and establish a path toward a healthier lifestyle.
Kratom Addiction Treatment
There are no particular medical treatments for kratom addiction. Fortunately, some people exploring treatment have found behavioral therapy to be effective. The first step is recognizing any misunderstandings you may have about drug use and kratom addiction. Remember that drug use alters the structure and chemistry of the brain, making it unlikely to stop taking the drug.
You might think of staging an intervention with other family members or friends. While intervention may drive your loved one to seek help for an addiction, there are no guarantees. Confrontation-style interventions can have the opposite effect, leading to anger, mistrust, or isolation. Sometimes, straightforward communication is a better option. Be ready for every outcome. Your loved one might deny having an addiction or a problem at all or refuse to seek help. If that occurs, seek out additional resources or find a support group for family members or friends living with addiction.
Kratom detox is a process aimed at helping individuals safely and gradually overcome dependence on kratom. The first step in detox involves a thorough assessment by healthcare professionals to determine the extent of dependence, overall health, and any potential co-occurring issues.
During detoxification, the individual gradually reduces their kratom intake under medical supervision, allowing the body to adjust to lower levels of the substance. Medical support helps manage withdrawal symptoms, which may include irritability, nausea, muscle aches, and difficulty sleeping. The goal of kratom detox is to safely eliminate the substance from the body while providing necessary care to ease the discomfort associated with withdrawal.
While detoxing from kratom is a crucial initial step, it is typically not sufficient for long-term recovery. Following detox, individuals often engage in evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or counseling to address the psychological aspects of addiction. This comprehensive approach, combining detoxification with therapeutic interventions, aims to support individuals on their path to recovery from kratom dependence.
Kratom Addiction Behavioral Therapy
While there isn’t a specific FDA-approved medication treatment explicitly tailored for kratom addiction, certain evidence-based therapeutic approaches commonly used for substance use disorders may be beneficial. The top choices for behavioral therapies that are often considered satisfactory include the following:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This approach helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with addiction. CBT can address triggers for drug cravings and develop coping strategies to prevent relapse.
- Contingency Management (CM): CM provides positive reinforcement for desired behaviors such as abstinence from kratom use. This can involve rewards or incentives to encourage and maintain sobriety.
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET): MET focuses on increasing an individual’s motivation to change and commit to treatment. It can help explore personal values and goals, strengthening the resolve to overcome addiction.
While these therapies are widely used for substance use disorders, individual responses to treatment vary, and a personalized approach is often the most effective. Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals can help determine the most suitable behavioral therapy for addressing kratom addiction.
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Known Side Effects of Kratom
Kratom can cause effects similar to both stimulants and opioids. Two compounds in kratom leaves, mitragynine, and 7-α-hydroxy mitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and diminished pain, mainly when users consume large amounts of the plant. However, mitragynine also interacts with other receptor systems in the brain to produce stimulant effects. As a result, users describe heightened energy, sociability, and alertness instead of sedation when kratom is taken in small amounts. However, kratom can also cause uncomfortable and sometimes severe side effects.
Mitragyna speciosa takes effect after five to 10 minutes, lasting two to five hours. The results of kratom become stronger as the quantity taken increases. In animals, kratom appears to be more potent than morphine.
At low doses, kratom has energizing (stimulant) effects. At high doses, it can have pain-relieving (analgesic) and sleep-inducing (sedative) effects.
The most common side effects from kratom are listed below:
Physical Kratom Side Effects
- Pain relief.
- Increased energy.
- Increased libido.
- Dry mouth.
- Increased urination.
- Loss of appetite.
- Sensitivity to sunburn.
Behavioral Kratom Side Effects
- Increased social behavior.
- Sense of well-being.
- Increased motivation.
- Increased alertness.
Can You Overdose on Kratom?
While rare, overdosing on kratom is possible. The compounds in kratom can impact breathing, potentially causing difficulties or even failure in extreme cases. Overdose symptoms may involve nausea, vomiting, confusion, and seizures. It’s essential to be careful with kratom dosage, and if any adverse effects occur, seek medical help promptly, especially if combined with other substances or taking higher doses.
Kratom Overdose Symptoms
Individual responses can vary, and the risk of overdose increases with higher doses or when kratom is combined with other substances. If someone experiences these symptoms after kratom use, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial for a proper evaluation and intervention.
Kratom overdose symptoms can include the following:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Loss of consciousness.
- In severe cases, respiratory failure may occur.
In What States Is Kratom Illegal?
Kratom’s legal status can vary, and it’s essential to stay informed about the latest regulations. As of January 2022, kratom was illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Also, some cities and counties in states where it’s generally legal may have local restrictions or bans. Always check the current legality of kratom in your specific location, as laws may change.
Do you have questions about kratom withdrawals or kratom addiction treatment in general? Call our helpline 24/7.
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Behavioral therapies and medications have not been tested for the treatment of dependence or kratom addiction. Therefore, healthcare providers should screen clients for potential co-occurring mental health conditions or dual diagnoses. Addiction is a chronic illness because it is not a passing condition like a wound that will heal by itself. So, if you have concerns about your use of kratom, you can never endure this illness alone. Kratom abuse is progressive, and you are prone to relapse conditions. So, if you are troubled, this is the time to seek help.
It’s never too late to stop taking a drug because it is wrecking your life. Your kratom rehab center can help you cease taking the substance and sustain a drug-free lifestyle. Moreover, there are many options for people who want to discontinue using kratom, so it is crucial to get help as soon as possible.
Recovering from kratom addiction can be challenging, but a drug-free life is achievable. Call We Level Up NJ today to have a confidential treatment referral and to begin admission.
If you or someone you know is withdrawing from kratom or struggling with kratom addiction, We Level Up NJ detox center provides personalized care with a team of experienced professionals. Begin your journey towards better health by taking the first step towards healing. Get help. Call We Level Up NJ now. Each call is free and confidential.
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