Kratom: Uses, Addiction, Side Effects & Recovery

What is Kratom?

Kratom is an increasingly popular herbal supplement ... and it's also addictive. Lean more about kratom addiction and abuse in our blog.

Kratom is an evergreen tree that is grown in Southeast Asia. It is also known as Mitragyna Speciosa and belongs to the family of coffee trees. Native to Southeast Asia, Kratom is grown in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea, among others. Like other medicinal plants, Kratom too has been used as a pain reliever for several centuries. Kratom also has opioid and stimulant-like effects.

As this plant can produce stimulating effects, it is being misused for recreational purposes. If we look at the data mentioned in Bloomberg, this psychoactive plant has a market of $1.3 billion. Even though it is fairly new in the market, kratom is gaining users rapidly.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is a tree that is naturally grown in various parts of Southeastern countries. It is abundant in number and comes under the "least concern" category regarding conservation status. Apart from using its leaves as a herbal medicine, kratom has been historically used by farmers who needed a boost for energy and stamina. The farmers and rubber planters who work for long hours under the sun took kratom to increase their stamina.

As mentioned, Kratom comes from the coffee tree family, hence, the energy supply. Unfortunately, this is not the only effect that kratom produces. It is a psychotropic tree, which means that the herb produced by kratom has mind-altering qualities. This is the reason why it is currently somewhat popular in the US and around the globe. Rather than just naturally boosting your energy, this tree produces effects resembling stimulants and opioids. In fact, kratom even works as a sedative because it interacts with the opioid receptors in the brain. 

It has been reported that kratom can produce alertness, talkativeness, increased sociability, etc when taken in small doses. On the other hand, it can also create a pain-relieving and euphoric feeling when taken in large quantities. You can understand that kratom mimics the effects and nature of an addictive opioid in our brains. Just like opioids have severe negative effects on our health, kratom has the same quality. If taken over a long period in heavy doses, Kratom can be hazardous to our health.

So, if you are thinking about whether kratom is addictive or not or is as dangerous as other narcotics drugs, the answer would be yes. Kratom has an addictive nature and can have serious side effects. Let's talk about addiction to kratom in detail.

Addiction to Kratom

First, it would be good to remember that extensive research has not been done on kratom. Many questions are still unanswered, and various researchers and scientists are still working on them. But what can be said with almost certainty is that kratom is addictive and has bad side effects on human beings. You might also not be aware that the Drug Enforcement Administration agency proposed banning kratom at the federal level. Still, this proposal was dropped due to lacking details and research.

As mentioned above, Kratom is a medicinal tree now being used as a recreational drug. Some doctors believe that some substance in kratom gets attached to our nerve cells, like opioid painkillers. This is the reason why it has a similar effect to opioid anesthetics. But little research was done to back any of these notions. What we know about kratom with certainty is that earlier, it was deemed a safer alternative to opioid drugs as the latter causes addiction. 

With the increasing number of addiction cases and the legal status of Kratom in various states in the United States of America, the concept of it as a natural, safer alternative has faded out. In fact,  the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning stating that there were deadly risks connected with kratom usage. However, they also indicated that there is not much difference between kratom and other opioid drugs and they both have almost similar effects. Thus, they should not be treated differently. 

There is a strong possibility that you must have come across kratom capsules. Kratom-related products are generally sold in both offline stores and online markets. You will either be available in capsule or powder form. A few herbal companies sell this plant by saying it is a holistic alternative to pain-relieving medications. We have talked about kratom being an energy booster, sedative, and pain reliever, but this psychotropic tree is also said to be a treatment for opioid withdrawal symptoms.

The main thing to take away from this is that the elements of the tree that make it a drug detox agent for the opioid drug are the same elements that make it addictive. So, like opioid drugs, kratom can cause the user to become physically and psychologically dependent on the herb.

Many also believe that kratom is a gateway drug as it introduces users to harder forms of narcotic substances. How? Those who get addicted to kratom might want to consume even more effective drugs that can satiate their growing need to feel euphoric. So, kratom addiction can lead to addiction to other hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, etc. Let's now focus on the dangerous side of this herb. 

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Common Signs of Kratom Addiction

Even after several agencies have been warning kratom users about the ill effects of the drug, not many people have paid much heed to it. Despite the warnings, many people have continued engaging with this psychotropic herb. Some people use kratom to treat chronic pain, while others use it to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Apart from them, many people use Kratom as a recreational drug. It is difficult to stop its usage because it is freely supplied and used in various herbal medications and products. Hence, the easy accessibility also makes it harder to stop Kratom proliferation. If you or someone you know are using Kratom, below are some common signs. 

Signs of Kratom addiction are:

  • If you are regularly using Kratom and in higher doses, it can be a clear indication of addiction

  • Distraction is another glaring sign. If you are only focused on taking your next dose, it can be a problem

  • If you use the herbal medication form of Kratom, ensure you are using it according to the instructions

  • After excessive use, our body develops a tolerance for the drug. This results in the need for a larger dose to achieve the same effect

  • Spending a lot of money on replenishing the stash of Kratom

  • Exhibiting risky behavior like stealing, being violent and on the opposite side of the law, engaging in unprotected sex, and more

  • Trying to stop using Kratom but failing to do so

  • Experiencing kratom withdrawal effects when you try to stop taking its dose

Common Kratom Side Effects

There are various side effects of Kratom. These effects vary from one person to another and are also determined by the number of doses consumed by the user. Apart from this, the longer the addiction habit goes, the more severe an effect one can experience. Let's discuss some common side effects of using Kratom and its related products.

Some common side effects of using Kratom are:

  • Physical side effects of using Kratom include pain relief, increased energy, loss of appetite, constant urge to urinate, dry mouth, increased libido, sleepiness, constipation, sweating, nausea, itchiness, vulnerability to sunburn, and more

  • Other behavioral and psychological side effects include increased alertness, sociability, talkativeness, drowsiness, increased motivation, relaxation, dulled emotions, euphoria, happiness and improved well-being, psychosis, and more

Besides the common side effects, people have also experienced dizziness, muscle pain, hallucination, delusion, weight loss, chills, depression, slowed breathing, seizure, coma, and even death. There are also some long-term effects of using Kratom. These include insomnia, extreme weight loss, discoloration of the face, tremors, seizures, psychosis, cramps, seizures, liver damage, and more.

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Kratom Drug Abuse Recovery & Treatment 

If you suspect someone close to you or yourself is struggling with Kratom addiction, the best way to seek help is by going to a drug rehab center. These facilities are designed to help patients with addiction problems. Kratom is a new drug, so the best way to go about its treatment is to not self-medicate and seek professional medical help. If the severity of the addiction is lower, the rehab may only go with drug detox. Drug detox is when the user's body is cleaned of the addictive substance.

On the other hand, if the symptoms of Kratom addiction are intense, the rehab may recommend a few behavioral therapy programs for you to develop coping skills. These therapies will help the user get comprehensive treatment for their problem. Seeking medical help for treating addiction is the safest option.

Struggling with Kratom Abuse? The Edge Treatment Center Can Help

Addiction is a chronic brain dysfunction that is characterized by its rewarding effect, compulsion, and relapsing nature. It is known by the diagnostic term substance use disorder (SUD). Drugs and alcohol addiction is a health condition. This disease has severe effects that are both short-term and long-term based. Addiction can rapidly become fatal due to overdose.

According to the data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 106,000 American populations have lost their lives due to drug overdose. These overdoses are from all drugs, including synthetic opioids like fentanyl, cannabis, prescription medications, and more. From chemical-based drug substances to plant-derived ones, they all have addictive properties. They have the ability to create physical dependence and by frequent use, one can develop a tolerance for them too.

A truism about addiction is this: it's not always about a particular substance, but about the reasons and outcomes that result from using a substance. If you think kratom abuse is taking over your life, contact The Edge Treatment Center. We'll help you find a drug detox center as your first step into recovery.

When you come to our outpatient drug rehab, we'll help you discover the reasons behind your addiction, giving you the tools and resources you need to leave kratom behind. Want to learn more? Contact The Edge Treatment Center now.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 14, 2023