Can you get addicted to Kratom?

Can you get addicted to Kratom? Kratom use among young people and adults is increasing due to its general legal status and the assumption that the plant-derived substance is safe. In a recent 2021 study, people in the U.S. ages 12 and older have reported using Kratom in the past year. Despite its recent surge in popularity, Kratom is a substance that has been around for centuries. Yet very little is known about the drug and its effects on a person with long-term usage. Like any other mind-altering substance, Kratom can become very addictive.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a substance derived from the leaves of a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. Traditionally in Asia, it has been used for hundreds of years to treat various conditions such as coughs, diarrhea, opiate withdrawal and chronic pain.

It is usually found in a powder form that can be taken in capsules or consumed as an herbal tea. Kratom contains two important psychoactive ingredients: mitragynine and 7-hydroxymytragynine. These two ingredients are the main factors causing the effects of both stimulation and sedation depending on how much of the substance has been consumed.

Kratom in the form of a tropical plant leaf, powder and capsules laid out on a table shows that you can get addicted to kratom in any form.

In low doses of Kratom, the substance can produce stimulant-like effects. Mircrodosing is often used to help increase alertness and physical energy. In higher doses, Kratom produces sedative-like effects. Decreasing pain and increasing the sensation of pleasure. Higher doses of Kratom often mimic the same effects of opioid use due to the similarity in which Kratom works on the brain’s messaging center that stimulates pain and energy. Because of this, Kratom usage has the potential to lead to dependence and addiction.

Symptoms and Side Effects

The effects of Kratom can vary depending on different contributing factors. These factors include potency of dosage, how much of the substance is taken, formulation of the substance and if the person is also using other substances. Taking Kratom with other substances can increase the risk of negative side effects.

Physical symptoms:

  • Pain relief
  • Increased energy
  • Sleepiness and insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures and hallucinations

Psychological and Behavioral symptoms:

  • Increased motivation
  • Increased alertness
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Increased social behavior
  • Calmness
  • Euphoria

Kratom use in the U.S.

Today, Kratom is commonly used to help boost energy, enhance mood and sometimes treat addiction to opioids. Kratom is not FDA regulated. Since 2014, the FDA has begun issuing more warnings against using Kratom and does not endorse any medicinal uses for the substance. Because it is unregulated, there is no way of knowing how potent any amount of Kratom is or if it contains mixtures of other harmful substances. There is no control or information on the growth, processing or packaging of Kratom sold in the U.S. These uncertainties pose a great risk to public health and to users of Kratom.

The DEA has listed Kratom as a Drug and Chemical of Concern that doesn’t provide any medicinal or health benefits. In the U.S., Kratom is only illegal in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington D.C. Kratom, also known as herbal speedball, does not require a prescription and therefore many believe it to be safe to consume.

A common misconception about the substance is that because it is legal, is a plant-derived and natural substance, it is safe to use. Kratom products are often marketed as “safe” and used as an herbal alternative to traditional medical treatments.

This type of marketing has been especially influential on teens and young adults who are assuming that Kratom is a safer substance to use. It is legal, unregulated and therefore much easier to obtain compared to other drugs.

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Herbal substances such as Kratom can become just as addictive as opioids and other mind-altering drugs. The increase in usage has seen many people using Kratom to alleviate pain and address symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Research has also found that some users take Kratom to stop or reduce opioid use and manage opioid withdrawal symptoms.

The study of Kratom is still fairly new and there is not enough supported evidence to prove the substance has any beneficial claims. There is little evidence that shows the effects of Kratom on a person’s health over an extended period of time. With the current database of research, Kratom has not demonstrated any safe or effective outcomes for any medical conditions.

Treatment Options

Currently, there is not enough research to officially determine a safe and effective treatment approach for those suffering from an addiction to Kratom. More scientific research is needed to understand the complexities of the substance, how it works, and if it can be used to treat other conditions. Some are pushing for Kratom to become a federally regulated substance. This would provide users more safety in knowing the exact dosages of Kratom they are consuming and that it is free of other containments. U.S. regulations and standards would also reduce potential harm due to drug mislabeling.

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

One way to bring more awareness to the substance issue is to increase education. Educating consumers on the dangers, side effects and other misleading claims can help prevent an addiction epidemic.

Behavioral health programs that treat substance addiction have been known to treat Kratom addiction with medication-assisted treatments and other medically managed programs. Hotel California by the Sea offers a specialized Kratom Addiction treatment program. Our medically assisted detox and residential programs offer clients 24/7 access to treatment care. In PHP and IOP care, clients will have the support of therapists and recovery support groups to assist in their treatment progress. Though there is no official treatment method for Kratom addiction, Hotel California by the Sea offers a wide range of rigorous therapies and medication managed options. Individual care plans are created to help clients suffering from co-occurring mental health conditions and Kratom addiction.