Kratom users speak highly of its mood enhancement and other stimulant-like properties, but what exactly is kratom? Often promoted as a health supplement, kratom is widely used and sold around the globe, as it has been for decades. Despite being considered a “healthier” alternative to painkillers and other addictive substances, kratom use presents growing concerns. Although it is questionably legal, it is essential to recognize kratom as a substance with a high potential for abuse, dependency and addiction.
What is Kratom?
The term “Kratom” is used to describe both Mitragyna speciosa, a tree located in Southeast Asia, and the products created from its leaves. The leaves from the tree contain several chemical compounds that influence the body. Products derived from its leaves are typically marketed as herbal supplements.
People report using kratom by swallowing raw plant leaves in a capsule or powder, mixing the powder into drinks or food, brewing the leaves into a tea or extracting kratom and consuming the liquid. The substance can produce stimulant-like and opioid-like effects. It is often used as a pain reliever or a remedy to treat anxiety and depression.
Although some kratom users may say otherwise, kratom’s potential for severe side effects outweighs its potential benefits. When consumed, kratom may produce side effects, including:
- Increased alertness, attention and energy
- Increased pleasure
- Reduced physical and mental pain
- Aggression, anxiety and irritability
- Nausea and vomiting
- Delusion and hallucinations
- Drowsiness and sedation
Serious side effects may include, but are not limited to:
- Cardiac issues
- Brain diseases
- Chronic insomnia
- Liver damage or liver failure
- Kidney failure
- Respiratory issues
The legality surrounding kratom use in the United States is complicated due to differences in federal and state laws. Currently, kratom use is not illegal in the U.S., although it is considered a schedule 1 controlled substance and outlawed in several states.
Concerns With Kratom Use
Kratom use may seem safer than other drugs because it is labeled a “natural medicine.” However, there are increased concerns about kratom use due to its dangerous health effects and the risk of acquiring contaminated kratom products.
First, there are currently no FDA-approved uses for kratom. This lack of approval means it has not been identified as safe or effective for medical or recreational purposes.
Next, many users have turned to kratom to self-medicate the effects of drug withdrawal symptoms and cravings, particularly for opioid use and addiction. Why? Kratom acts on the same brain receptors as other opiate drugs, such as morphine, but the risks of kratom use may outweigh its benefits because it still exposes users to chemical addiction and dependency risks.
There are even more concerns associated with recovery from kratom addiction. Kratom withdrawal may produce muscle and bone pain, tremors, intense mood swings and hostility. Due to rising concerns with kratom use, it is crucial to understand that safe, effective and approved medications are available to help relieve physical pain and distressing mental health symptoms.
Treatment for Kratom Addiction
Although even regulated use can pose concerns, it is essential to familiarize yourself with general warning signs of addiction and recognize it in yourself or your loved one if or when it surfaces. Common warning signs of addictioninclude:
- Intrusive thoughts about obtaining or using a substance
- Experiencing extreme withdrawal symptoms when not using a substance
- Taking more of a substance to achieve the desired effect (increased tolerance)
- Always having the substance readily available
- Resorting to risky behaviors to obtain the substance, such as stealing
- Spending an excessive amount of time under the influence of the substance or recovering from substance use
- Failed attempts to cut back or stop using the substance
- Increased isolation and withdrawal from daily activities
- Significant changes in mood or personality
If you or your loved one is ready for treatment, expect to go through a detoxification process first. Detox is the process of ridding a substance from your body entirely in a controlled environment with 24/7 medical and emotional support. Detox has three primary steps:
- Evaluation: The evaluation stage is when patients receive measurements of the amount of a substance in the bloodstream and other health information.
- Stabilization: This step involves transitioning from using drugs to becoming substance-free. Medication is often provided to help with uncomfortable withdrawal effects.
- Treatment: This means beginning a treatment program that best suits your needs.
Kratom addiction is treatable, although it is a process that takes time. You can expect to attend several different types of therapy that work to help you identify and change self-destructive behaviors. Treatment will also teach you how to work through drug cravings, avoid drugs in your environment and actively prevent relapse.
Casa Palmera is a nationally recognized drug addiction and mental health treatment center that understands the difficulties of treating kratom use and addiction. We offer several therapeutic approaches to treating addiction and create individualized treatment plans for our patients. We believe in your ability to heal from drug addiction. To learn more about treatment for kratom use, call us today at (855) 508-0473.