What Is Kratom Withdrawal Syndrome?

Kratom Withdrawal Syndrome | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Kratom (mitragyna speciosa) is a plant native to Southeast Asia that is also commonly transported into the U.S. for distribution. At low doses, kratom has a stimulant effect and may induce pleasant feelings and energy. At higher doses, it has a sedative effect and can result in sedation.

Although not technically an opioid, kratom does act on opioid receptors, and its use can result in dependence, which is a condition that will cause withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of use. The withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom may be similar to the flu-like symptoms that occur during opioid withdrawal.

Although medical professionals do not generally recommend it, many people report using kratom as a means to get off of heroin or other opioids. Kratom’s ability to act on opioid receptors is what makes it effective for this purpose. However, persons attempting to stop the use of opioids are urged to instead undergo a medical detox and enter a comprehensive treatment program.

At the time of this writing, the Drug Enforcement Administration categorizes the plant kratom as a “drug of concern.” Efforts to classify this drug as a controlled substance have been met with considerable backlash. As such, it is currently legal at a federal level and is commonly found in tablet or powder form.

Symptoms of Kratom Withdrawal

According to the DEA, physical kratom withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Joint or bone pain
  • Jerky movements of arms and legs
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Tremors
  • Chills and sweating
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Darkening of the skin (e.g., the face)
  • Seizures

Mental or emotional symptoms may include:

  • Hostility and aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability

In cases of severe dependence, psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions, can occur.

Like opioid withdrawal, symptoms of kratom withdrawal generally starts within 6-12 hours of the last dose, and they peak at about 2-3 days. Most physical symptoms will have subsided after a week, but emotional symptoms can persist for much longer.

The duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms are closely related to the level of abuse and length of time it has been used. Furthermore, other medical or mental health problems may affect the intensity of withdrawal. Polysubstance abuse (concurrent use of other drugs or alcohol) may prolong or worsen the withdrawal process.

Kratom Withdrawal Syndrome | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Detoxing and Weaning Off of Kratom

Many types of addictive substances, such as benzodiazepines, can be slowly tapered off over time to avoid the potentially severe symptoms and cravings that come with abrupt withdrawal. The goal is to gradually rebalance brain chemistry over time instead of jolting it by suddenly removing the drug.

When a drug substance such as kratom is discontinued abruptly after a person has developed a dependence, the brain may experience a rebound effect, in which it tries to restore balance rapidly, resulting in significant withdrawal symptoms. Tapering down the dosage of kratom can mitigate the side effects of withdrawal, as the brain’s chemistry is given a chance to regain its natural balance gradually.

Moreover, instead of stopping kratom “cold turkey,” tapering down the dosage slowly during detox may be preferable. A detox may include the use of medications or supplements to manage withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, as well. If a rapid detox is warranted, persons are generally advised to undergo a professional medical detox rather than attempt to do so on their own.

Advantages of Medical Detox

A medical detox is performed in a clinical environment and may be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis. In either case, a person is provided with consistent access to medical and mental health professionals and medications, if needed. In this setting, patients will be safe and comfortable and may experience a significant reduction in the number of, and intensity of, withdrawal symptoms.

Medications commonly administered to treat emotional withdrawal symptoms may include antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. Other pharmaceuticals may also be prescribed to treat physical symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, and high blood pressure.

If other substances have also been abused, other medications may be needed to avoid complications or unwanted drug interactions. It is important to indicate to treatment providers if, in addition to kratom, there may be any other substances in your system so that medications used during medical detox are safe and effective.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers individualized, state-of-the-art detox services and programs designed to treat addiction and address all aspects of a person’s health and emotional well-being. All of our programs feature therapies and activities clinically proven to be beneficial during the process of recovery.

If you or someone you love is addicted to kratom, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today! We are committed to helping as many people as we can break the cycle of addiction and free themselves from the abuse of substances for life!

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Kratom Effects and Addiction

Kratom Effects | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Kratom Effects and Addiction – Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical, tree-like, coffee plant native to parts of Southeast Asia. In Thailand and other neighboring areas, kratom has been an herbal remedy for several centuries. Depending on the potency and dosage, kratom can produce both stimulant and opiate-like effects, thereby alleviating symptoms caused by a variety of ailments.

Given kratom’s ability to boost energy, relieve mild pain, and act on the brain’s opioid receptors, anecdotal evidence (personal accounts) suggest that it may be helpful in managing opiate withdrawal symptoms.

In the past two decades, use of kratom, both as a recreational drug and for self-medicating opiate withdrawal symptoms, has significantly increased. Nonetheless, medical professionals commonly advise against the use of kratom for these purposes.

Is Kratom Harmful?

In the Western world, scientific research regarding kratom’s effects is limited. Currently, very little experimentation has been undertaken to determine whether kratom is safe for human consumption. Most current information about kratom is anecdotal, resulting from accounts by those who use it, doctors who have witnessed its effects, or animal experimentation. However, some clinical trials in the U.S. are forthcoming or underway.

In the U.S, kratom is not yet a regulated substance, thus it is widely available for purchase via internet marketplaces and head shops. Kratom is available in capsule and compressed tablet form, or as chopped loose leaves with which tea is concocted.

Research suggests that kratom contains more than 20 active chemicals, many of which bind to opioid receptors in our nervous system. For this reason, physical dependence upon kratom is a real possibility.

Furthermore, some other chemicals present in kratom are known to disturb the drug-metabolizing activity of liver enzymes, giving it the potential to interact with other substances. As a result, overdoses have been reported – even some fatal.

Despite its long history of benign medicinal use in Southeast Asia, kratom abuse is well-known in the region. Because of its addictive potential, Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia have banned kratom outright.

Low-dose Kratom Effects

At low doses below 5 grams, the predominant effects tend to be stimulant-like. On average, effects take around 10 minutes to begin, lasting approximately an hour or two. While an overwhelming number of reports by users claim that kratom’s effects are quite pleasant in general, a minority of users reportedly experience unease, anxiety, and agitation.

Kratom’s stimulant-like effects are comparable to those of amphetamine, albeit much weaker, and include the following:

  • Suppressed appetite
  • Enhanced alertness
  • Increased energy
  • Improved sociability
  • Amplified libido

Moderate- to High-Dose Kratom Effects

Opiate-like kratom effects initiate at dosages between 5 to 15 grams, and such effects can last for several hours. The “high” felt at this dose is euphoric and relaxing, like opiates, although less intense. Also, a minority of users have reported experiencing dysphoria, depression, and discomfort.

Moderate to high doses of kratom are also known to produce the following opiate-like effects:

  • Analgesic pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Dreamlike thoughts and consciousness
  • Cough suppression
  • Alleviation of opioid withdrawals
  • Extreme sedation (at doses > 15 g)
  • Loss of consciousness (at doses > 15 g)

Side Effects of Kratom

Kratom use is associated with a wide range of side effects, varying in intensity from barely perceptible to life-threatening, depending on the potency and dosage of the kratom consumed. Side effects of kratom are similar to opiates and stimulants and include the following:

  • Constriction of pupils
  • Flushed face
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Reduced motor coordination

Although rare, serious toxic reactions have been reported, though information regarding these events is scarce. For this reason, it is difficult to estimate the true dangers that a kratom overdose might pose to users. Toxic reactions have reportedly resulted in seizures and tend to a result of single, rapidly-consumed doses exceeding 15 grams.

Kratom Addiction and Treatment

Kratom is perceived by the average person as an herb, and understood as such, thereby escaping the commonplace association with addiction to pharmaceutical pills. Nonetheless, the chemical activity of kratom is such that regular use carries with it a notable risk of dependence and addiction.

Kratom is anecdotally known to mitigate opiate withdrawal symptoms, accomplishing this by binding with opioid receptors, and is therefore tantamount to opiates by nature. As such, kratom itself can be addictive and habit-forming.

Kratom addiction is a very new phenomenon but can be treated just like any other substance abuse problem. The overuse of kratom may indicate dependence – a condition that should be approached through comprehensive, evidence-based long-term therapy, counseling, and group support.

Patients addicted to kratom are urged to participate in a partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment program such as those offered by Midwood Addiction Treatment. Upon completion, patients can take advantage of aftercare planning services which help locate resources in the area, such as therapists and counselors, for the sustainment of long-term wellness and sobriety.

Our programs are structured with various components of evidence-based treatment practices and holistic approaches to treatment that provide our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their recovery.

If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please contact us as soon as possible!