The Truth About Kratom and Risk of Addiction
Kratom is a new type of natural substance being used in the US. While those who market kratom for various ailments will state it is safe, the FDA has stated otherwise. Though it has all the qualifications of being an addictive substance, it’s currently not a controlled substance in the US.
Can Kratom be Abused and Is it Addictive?
Kratom is not regulated or standardized and is often sold illegally online. Currently, no official drug labels exist. The FDA has publicly stated that it is a drug of concern but it hasn’t been banned in the US quite yet. Many countries have banned it including Germany, Thailand, and Malaysia. There are dangers to using kratom. It has been shown to be addictive and there is no system currently monitoring the dangerous side effects. While it may help with sleep and weight loss, it is also responsible for 36 known deaths to date.
What is Kratom?
Kratom is a plant indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It is currently being marketed in the US as a safe and natural treatment to heal many ailments. These marketers don’t talk about how to stop taking kratom. Kratom is currently not considered a controlled substance by the FDA. It is however listed as a “drug of concern.” The leaves and the stems of kratom are dried and then people will chew it or brew them. This results in low dose stimulant effects. When doses are higher, it causes opioid-like effects. The DEA has stated that is causes euphoria within 10 minutes of injecting it. The high can last for up to five hours. The active ingredient is mitragynine which gives the user more energy and allows them to become more alert. It blocks pain when taken at medium doses and can also be used as a sedative.
Some say that kratom is a plant-based product that is totally safe to use. In lieu of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication, some are using kratom. The problem is these conditions are serious and warrant diagnosis and medication from a physician. Kratom is being marketed as a means to aid people in pain or those with mood disorders. The FDA and DEA have stated that evidence proves kratom has effects like opioids. There is risk of abuse, addiction, and potentially death. People are using kratom to kick their opioid addiction which doesn’t constitute detoxification. There are also people who will use kratom because it’s not detectable for general drug tests. With no direction from the label or the FDA, abuse of kratom is at high risk. Kratom overdose seizure is a concern and there is no true way to know how long it takes to get addicted to kratom.
Is Kratom Really Addictive?
The DEA has stated that kratom is a drug of concern. When it’s taken in lower doses, it is a stimulant drug. It has the potential to increase focus, energy, and make you feel more alert. There are narcotic effects that are much like morphine. Reports have shown that kratom may be addictive, especially when taken in high doses. It produces a mellow high that is much like opioid drugs. One study found that half of people who used kratom for a period of six month or more experienced opiate withdrawal symptoms. Another 45% would experience less severe symptoms. An alarming 80% of people who attempted to quit kratom were not able to. The general consensus through a variety of studies was that many long term users would develop a severe dependence.
Kratom Addiction Symptoms
Just like other narcotics, kratom has the potential to cause addiction. Cravings can occur which pushes the person to continue using chronically. Regardless of the effects of using, they will continue. This is the nature of addiction. Kratom addiction comes surprisingly, more so than illicit street drugs. When it’s marketed as a weight loss tool or an herbal supplement to increase energy, users that would never normally do drugs are at risk. The intention was never to be a recreational drug user but to achieve some healthy result in a natural way. Regardless, kratom addiction can occur. These are some of the symptoms:
- A loss of sexual desire.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- The skin may darken.
- Strong cravings to take kratom.
- Daily use even if the desired effect has occurred like weight loss.
Signs and Symptoms of Kratom Use
In lower doses of kratom, the user will experience greater alertness and energy levels. They will be talkative and perhaps more social when they’re usually introverted. Some say it’s easier to manage doing mundane tasks. Though others will get anxious and feel on edge. Higher doses of kratom is not only dangerous but it can lead to kratom addiction. Too much kratom causes nausea at times. This can lead to nausea and vomiting. One can also suffer from a kratom skin reaction. They may become itchy and sweat profusely. Although the small doses lead to higher energy, taking a higher dose can lead to drowsiness.
Kratom Overdose Symptoms
Kratom overdose deaths are becoming a great concern, prompting an FDA warning to the public. There have been 36 deaths linked to kratom. They also warned of kratom addiction potential. Kratom overdose symptoms will include the following:
- The person may become delusional.
- Person may have shallow breaths.
- They may become shaky.
- The onset of strange behavior like aggressiveness or paranoia.
- Extreme nausea that can last for long periods of time. This can lead to excessive vomiting.
- Kratom overdose seizure.
- Kratom hot flashes
These effects will usually set in shortly after kratom has been ingested. It can last for up to five hours with a higher dose lasting longer.
Mixing kratom is high risk. The youth in Asia will mix kratom with a codeine medicated cough syrup or highly caffeinated beverage. The combination is similar to being drunk. In the US, kratom is being mixed with psychoactive substances that negatively interact with one another. This has caused kratom seizures. Taking kratom for longer periods of time can cause addiction. The problem is that you become stuck in a rock and a hard place. Kratom withdrawal symptoms can be challenging to manage while remaining on kratom also causes issues. Kratom is said to help depression and yet it can worsen it. There is also the potential of fatal drug interactions every time it’s used. Using kratom, along with prescription based opioids is an at-home cocktail that is potentially fatal. Each medication will strengthen the other. This increases chances of kratom addiction, dependency or a deadly overdose.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
Is quitting kratom easy? When people try to detox from kratom at home, the success rate is low. Officials that have been following the reaction of kratom will tell you it isn’t. The DEA has found that kratom withdrawal will include similar side effects of opioid withdrawal. Side effects include:
- Pain in the muscle and bones.
- Risk of tremors.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- A runny nose.
- Mood swings.
- Feelings of hostility.
- Difficulty experiencing pleasure (due to a drop in serotonin levels).
The reality is, kratom addiction is a risk. It’s been shown that it’s not easy to stop using it. The best option is to go through the medical detox process. The longer you use kratom, the greater the dependency and the higher the tolerance.
Kratom and the Connection to the Opioid Epidemic
The FDA has found kratom to be a concern because people are misguided about what it can do for them. For those who have an opioid addiction, some are trying to use kratom to treat withdrawal symptoms. The problem is without any medical professional guidance, patients may just trade one addiction for another. As there is no warning on labels as to how long it takes to get addicted to kratom, people don’t understand the risks. The FDA is very committed to developing the medical therapy that will help fight against the opioid epidemic in the US. A rogue herbal medication that isn’t approved is not a part of their mandate. The concern is that it could cause an increase in opioid-related abuse. The FDA hasn’t found evident that is trustworthy for opioid addiction recovery. Those using kratom to fight their opioid addiction aren’t getting proper instruction on how to use. There is no consultation on any process of using it. Questions such as,”how many grams of kratom can I take per day?” aren’t being answered by legitimate sources backed by studies. Side effects, drug interactions with other prescriptions you may be taking and the danger of kratom are unknown.
How to Ease Kratom Withdrawal
Opioid drugs will usually require detox to make it more comfortable for people to recover. Lowering doses the same way you would with alcohol or opioids could help ease kratom withdrawal symptoms. What the process of tapering does is slowly rebalances the brain chemistry. When a person tries to stop using kratom after long-term use, they may find that they suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Drugs like kratom create a high when they’re abused which raises serotonin levels. The problem is when kratom withdrawal occurs, the brain will not have the ability to produce these “happy” chemicals. This is why some will feel extreme depression when they withdraw from kratom. It takes time for the brain to set itself back to normal again. This is why it’s suggested that stopping kratom cold turkey isn’t suggested. Detox treatment should be the first step towards recovery but should follow with other treatments. Through talk therapy, medically supervised detox, and recovery tools, an addict has the best chance for full recovery from kratom.
The FDA has not approved kratom to be used for therapeutic reasons. There really is no evidence to show that there are benefits to taking it. They have found kratom to have safety issues when it’s used. Kratom is especially risky when used for purposes like an individual trying to wean themselves off the likes of heroin. It is not a safe alternative to prescription opioids and shouldn’t be used for someone’s at home detox treatment. The doses a person should take to effectively work is unknown. The FDA is taking action against dietary supplements that contain kratom. They have stopped shipments of kratom from coming into the US. In 16 countries, kratom is considered a controlled substance and has been banned in many states. There has been an increase of adverse effects being called into the poison control centers around the US. This is causing a concern that the popularity of kratom is growing. The main issue is the mystery around the drug. Nobody is really too sure to what extent it poses a threat to individuals. While overdose doesn’t usually happen when used alone, it is being combined with drugs and alcohol. This is where kratom use causes a greater risk. There have been reports of people going to the hospital emergency because they were afraid of an unexplainable problem with their functions. They were actually going through withdrawal of kratom without realizing it. To say that kratom is non-addictive and not a risk has proven to be false.