Kratom Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on February 12, 2021

Kratom is not a controlled substance regulated by the FDA, but it has chemical properties that may cause dependency and addiction with prolonged use. Individuals who become addicted to Kratom may need substance abuse treatment in order to stop kratom use.

Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on February 12, 2021
Kratom Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical tree that is native to Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain chemical compounds that have psychotropic (or mind-altering) effects. While the drug is not currently considered illegal, it is often marketed for sale in packaging that lists the product as “not safe for human consumption.”

Kratom trees were banned in 1943 in the United States. Previous to this time, Kratom was prevalent and easy for individuals to access. Currently, Americans have limited access to the drug and often get it from other locations, such as Indonesia.

Kratom is also known by the following street names:

  • Biak
  • Ketum
  • Kakuam
  • Ithang
  • Thom

How Is Kratom Used?

Kratom is sometimes sold as a green powder, in pill form, as an extract, or gum. Some people chew kratom leaves or brew the dried leaves as tea. Kratom leaves may be eaten and consumed as food, or dried and smoked.

Another method of abuse is kratom insufflation. Snorting kratom can lead to several negative side effects including addiction and overdose.

Click here to learn more about the dangers of kratom insufflation

Side Effects Of Kratom

Kratom may cause some individuals to experience psychotic episodes that include hallucinations, delusions, or confusion. People who have underlying mental health concerns or chemical imbalances may be more prone to side effects when taking the drug.

The use of kratom can also be dangerous. Kratom may interfere or cause adverse effects when combined with other common prescription medications, including antidepressants, illegal drugs, certain foods, and other natural medicines.

Side effects of kratom include:

  • aggression
  • hallucinations
  • skin color changes
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • slow breathing

Kratom side effects may last upwards of five hours.

Is Kratom An Addictive Drug?

Kratom contains many active ingredients, but the main chemical of concern is mitragynine. This chemical activates opioid receptors in the brain, similar to the effects of well-known drugs like heroin and Oxycontin that cause opioid addiction.

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Kratom may cause effects similar to opiates and caffeine. Because kratom is related to coffee, it has stimulating effects. People who use kratom will experience both increased energy and a sense of relaxation.

Like other opioid drugs that act on the brain’s opioid receptors and lead to drug addiction, kratom may carry similar risks. Further, stopping Kratom after prolonged use may cause withdrawal symptoms.

Signs Of Kratom Addiction

It may not be easy for friends or family members to identify signs of kratom addiction. Kratom is often marketed as a health supplement and is not commonly known as an addictive substance.

Addiction to kratom may have behavioral or psychological factors, which means the individual will seek out the drug for the enjoyment of use, or for the drug’s euphoric, stimulating, or relaxing effects.

With regular substance use, the brain becomes unable to regulate chemical messengers and the central nervous system naturally, having become chemically dependent on the presence of the drug.

Signs of Kratom addiction may include:

  • using to avoid negative thoughts or emotions
  • using to cope with stress
  • defensive of drug use
  • difficulty controlling drug use
  • continuing drug use after adverse side effects
  • neglecting personal and professional responsibilities

Kratom Withdrawal

Like other drugs that produce opioid-like effects and opioid withdrawal, kratom might cause chemical dependence as the brain becomes reliant on kratom’s presence in the body. People who use Kratom may feel physical withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug and begin to detox.

Kratom withdrawal symptoms include:

  • chronic pain
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • hostility
  • aggression
  • runny nose

Kratom Addiction Treatment Options

Currently, Kratom is not regulated as other addictive substances that cause chemical dependency and addiction. However, the drug may lead to psychological or chemical dependence, addiction, and other dangerous side effects.

Individuals who use Kratom in high doses and over long periods of time may be at higher risk of developing a chemical dependency, addiction, and suffering withdrawal symptoms when stopping the drug.

People with mental illness or chemical imbalances are reportedly at higher risk for experiencing some of kratom’s adverse side effects, such as hallucinations.

When an individual continues to use Kratom after experiencing negative side effects or uses the drug as means to avoid facing stress and other responsibilities, it may be necessary to consult with qualified health care providers with experience in treating substance use disorder.

If you or a loved one is addicted to Kratom, or if you have any questions about substance abuse treatment programs, please connect with our treatment center through our helpline today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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