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 nonetheless 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 the 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
- 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
- Nausea and vomiting
- 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 associated of addiction with pharmaceutical pills. Nonetheless, the chemical activity of kratom means 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 an inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment program for a minimum of 30 days. 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 seek help as soon as possible.