Often, when it comes to addiction we tend to think of well-known substances like heroin, alcohol, meth, or other dangerous substances. For some, this has meant misunderstanding or underestimating the risk of abuse and addiction with other substances or behavioral actions. It is now understood that there is addiction risk in behavioral actions like gambling, sex, internet usage, video games, and much more. Further, oftentimes people conflate the legality of a substance or behavior with the risk of abuse or addiction.
Alcohol is a legal substance across the United States (U.S.), with wide social acceptance, and marijuana usage is increasingly legalized and accepted socially. However, with alcohol there is a serious risk for abuse and addiction, with potentially severe consequences. Thanks to more research, it is understood that marijuana is generally safe (though illegal use has risks with unknown substances sometimes mixed in). Still, there is some potential for psychological dependence with heavier use. Moreover, depending on a person’s tendency for abuse and addiction, it is possible to become a problem for certain people. Of course, it is obviously nothing like heroin, meth or crack. However, all users should be wary of the potential of dependence.
Kratom, a plant native to Southeast Asia, is newer to the U.S. market. This is partly why kratom is still legal in many states, with only 7 making it illegal so far. As it is not illegal federally, there is no classification with the DEA yet other than noting it as a “Drug of Concern”. Nevertheless, with increasing use there is concern for kratom tolerance, abuse, and addiction.
What is Kratom?
The scientific name for kratom is mitragyna speciosa. It is a plant native to Southeast Asia with a history of use in traditional medicine. It comes from a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family.
In the United States, it is frequently found online though in some states it is possible to find at various physical locations like gas stations or other small markets.
Currently, there is no acceptable medical use in the United States though some use it for that purpose.
Why People Use Kratom
Kratom has properties that are similar to opioids as well as some stimulants. In particular, especially due to its legality in many states, many people in the U.S. use it for pain management. Moreover, some people use kratom to deal with opioid withdrawal.
Additionally, kratom does produce some euphoric effects including improving one’s mood. A number of people increasingly use kratom for anxiety. Thus, a lot of people use kratom for the euphoric effects. Other euphoric side effects include:
- Increased energy
- Feelings of pleasure
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Most people take kratom as a pill, capsule, or extract. Some people chew kratom leaves or bew the dried or powdered leaves as a tea.” Of course, many people find various other ways to ingest substances and this includes smoking kratom, eating with food, and there is the possibility people will try snorting.
Risks – Side Effects, Withdrawal, Overdose
The positive effects at kratom are present when taken in smaller doses. When taken in larger amounts, this is where the opioid-like effects tend to kick in. The more one consumes, the more likely they are to develop a kratom tolerance.
According to the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), “Onset of effect occurs 5-10 minutes after ingestion and duration is 2-5 hours.” As with many other substances, continual use leads to development of tolerance. Subsequently, a person increases the dose to experience the same effects. It is possible for this to lead to withdrawal and addiction.
Negative side effects of kratom use include:
- Loss of appetite
The ACCP further explains, “ [Kratom] Withdrawal has been described as less intense but more protracted than with prescription opioids.” They list some kratom withdrawal symptoms as:
- Abdominal pain
Further possible symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Emotional changes
Per (NIDA), there are reports of deaths in people after ingesting kratom, but also with the presence of other substances. This is a risk with mixing many substances where the risk of overdose and death increases due to negative properties of each substance. This is also known as combined drug intoxication, which is when death occurs from the simultaneous use of multiple drugs.
Remember: just because a substance is legal does not mean it is safe. Alcohol is legal and widely popular in the U.S., but carries significant risk for misuse, abuse and addiction. It is also one of the few substances where it is possible for death to occur from withdrawal.
Yes, more research is necessary to fully understand kratom and the risks it carries. Still, initial studies are showing people reporting significant negative side effects leading to withdrawal and addiction. While sole kratom overdose has not yet been seen, there is risk in combining it with other substances. Some people have reported developing kratom tolerance, which then may lead to abuse and addiction. If possible, discuss with a health professional the risk of combining with other substances.
With any potential emergency situations, please call 911.
If you or someone you know uses kratom, use caution and discuss it with a health professional. Furthermore, if you or anyone you know are struggling with dependence or addiction, please contact us today for help.
Other Kratom FAQs
There is a lot to know and understand about Kratom. Browse through the following frequently asked questions to learn even more about the dangers and prevalence of kratom and developing a kratom tolerance:
Kratom Abuse and Addiction Help at Reflections Recovery Center
At Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ, we take a different approach to prescription drug addiction rehabilitation. By combining clinical treatment and holistic therapies, we provide our clients with all the tools they’ll need to achieve a life free from addiction.