Kratom is a highly controversial substance that has gained popularity in the U.S. over the last several years. Many questions about kratom remain unanswered and more research needs to be done to determine the dangers of kratom, as well as the long-term effects of the drug on the body.
In this blog, we will clear up some of the false information you may have heard about kratom and provide a few more details on its physical effects and potential for dependence and addiction.
What is Kratom?
Kratom tree leaves have been used for centuries as an herbal drug by farmers and laborers. Native to Southeast Asia, the “dietary supplement” is sold over the counter in smoke shops across the nation in powder and pill form. In the United States, it’s most commonly abused or ingested in tablet form, capsule, or extract. The leaves are also frequently dried and powdered and made into a tea. Users may also chew the leaves.
When taken in high doses, kratom can act as an opioid-like sedative, producing effects the dull pain. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are the main ingredient in Kratom and are the substances being strictly forbidden on the list of Schedule 1 substances.
Kratom has been used in Southeast Asia for a long time but has recently gained popularity in the U.S. People use kratom to ease symptoms of fibromyalgia, to treat or manage pain, or to reduce uncomfortable symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Using kratom at home for pain management or opioid withdrawal is not safe and using the substance regularly may result in physical dependence, tolerance, or addiction.
Is Kratom Legal?
Kratom is currently legal in some states but illegal in others. Several states have classified it as a synthetic drug or a controlled substance and may have banned any use of it. Certain areas in the following states may not allow for the legal use of kratom, but state laws regarding the drug are changing frequently.
- New Hampshire
In August of 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that Kratom would be classed with heroin, LSD, and marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, but in October, the DEA withdrew its decision. As of August 2018, Kratom is considered a supplement by the FDA and the DEA classifies it as a “Drug of Concern.”1,2
How Kratom Works In the Brain
The compounds in kratom leaves (mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine) stimulate opioid receptors in the brain, which is why some of the effects are similar to those of opioids and stimulants. The compounds also interact with other receptors in the brain to produce a stimulant effect.3
Short-Term Effects of Kratom
As of right now, scientists don’t really know what kratom does to your body when it is abused over a long period of time. However, it is known that small doses of kratom can produce a stimulant effect, resulting in effects like:3
- Increased sociability
- Extreme happiness
- Reduced coordination
- Increased alertness
- Increased talkativeness
Larger doses of dried leaves can cause sedative effects that last several hours. This often includes feelings of euphoria and calmness.
Kratom Addiction Side Effects
The long-term and short-term side effects of kratom are still being studied, but it is well known that abuse of the drug can be dangerous and life-threatening. Since 2014, 15 people have died from the effects of the kratom plant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that kratom abuse leads to the following symptoms:3
- Nausea and vomiting
- Kratom hepatotoxicity (liver damage)
- Weight loss
- Poor concentration
According to the DEA, there were also 660 kratom exposure calls to U.S. poison control centers between January 2010 and December 2015.2 The CDC reports that 42 percent of kratom cases reported between 2010 and 2015 involved symptoms that were not life-threatening but required some treatment. Seven percent of kratom exposures were life-threatening.5
Is Kratom Addictive?
Although some people believe kratom is not addictive, there is a major lack of research on kratom and its addictive qualities. Since its effects on the body are very similar to that of opioids, many researchers believe that it is addictive and can also cause physical dependence. With long-term and regular use, all the evidence points to kratom being addictive, and it has a very high potential for abuse and tolerance.
Kratom Addiction Withdrawal: What to Expect
Kratom effects the pleasure and reward systems in the brain, so when it is abused regularly for a long period of time and then the use suddenly stops, withdrawal symptoms may occur. These physical symptoms can be very uncomfortable and may resemble opioid withdrawal. Common kratom withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Aggressive behavior
- Emotional issues/mood swings
The Kratom Controversy
Some people believe kratom is just a harmless plant. However, kratom has a high potential for abuse. Currently, kratom has no accepted medical use in treatment and lacks safety use under no medical supervision. These are the three factors that constitute a Schedule I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970.
There are also currently no FDA regulations to monitor the purity of kratom or any safety regulations for producing it. More studies are needed to determine the safety of its use, its harmful effects on the body, and the state of its interactions with other drugs.
Kratom Recovery is Possible
Overcoming your addiction to kratom will likely be one of the greatest challenges you’ll ever face. Addiction is a devastating, debilitating disease. Its fallout can be far-reaching and long-lasting, with negative impacts on your life and the lives of everyone around you. Fortunately, finding kratom addiction help may be easier than you think.
If you are physically dependent, kratom addiction treatment may need to begin at a kratom detox center. Upon the completion of detox, a kratom addiction treatment center may provide behavioral therapy, 12-step group therapy, and other types of specialized therapies to help you overcome all aspects of your addiction.
Nova Recovery Center, a residential drug and alcohol treatment center, understands recovery is a continuous process. Our continuum of care is specifically designed for the highest possible outcomes for long-term sobriety. Contacting Nova Recovery residential drug and alcohol treatment center is the first step to changing lives.
If you’re looking for a kratom addiction treatment center, call us today. You can recover!