Kratom comes from the tropical kratom tree (Mitragyna speciosa). While the tree is native to Southeast Asia, the leaves that contain chemicals which give off psychotropic effects became popular in the United States. People consume the drug in different forms: pills, capsules, extracts and fresh, dried and powdered leaves.
Using kratom regularly is dangerous. Even though the plant is not an opiate, the chemicals found in the leaves interact with the same opioid receptors that cause a sense of euphoria. Using kratom regularly can result in kratom addiction and dependency. Some people who have become dependant upon kratom notice symptoms such as:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Emotional changes
It is also possible to overdose on kratom. In 2017, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recorded at least 44 deaths associated with the use of kratom. If you or a loved one use kratom regularly, it’s important to understand the side effects of using the substance. Recognizing the symptoms of abuse can alert you to the risk of addiction in yourself or a loved one.
Effects of Long-Term Kratom Use
While the leaves of the kratom tree might seem to offer desirable effects such as euphoria, sedation or decreased pain, long-term kratom use comes with many undesirable, destructive and dangerous effects as well.
Loss of Appetite
Using kratom can suppress the appetite and result in a loss of appetite. People familiar with the plant’s properties have tried to capitalize on this and created weight loss aids that include kratom, pointing to the plant’s ability to suppress hunger. These diet products are usually unregulated and are generally unsafe. A loss of appetite can result in overall health problems and a lack of nutrition.
Constipation is another side effect of using kratom regularly over time. The condition can be painful and disruptive to one’s day-to-day life. Always consult with a medical professional if constipation lasts for an extended period as there may be an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
Taking kratom regularly over the long term does not just have negative physical effects. It can cause emotional distress and other undesirable symptoms like irritation. People struggling with a kratom addiction can become moody, aggressive and express irritation. These symptoms are often a result of kratom withdrawal, indicating a physical dependence upon the drug.
Liver and Kidney Damage
One of the most harmful long-term effects of regular kratom use is liver and kidney damage. The leaves of the kratom tree are not safe to consume and can cause lasting harm to your body as it fails to filter toxins. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice signs of liver and kidney damage such as dark urine or yellowing skin.
Many of the physical symptoms that are the effects of long-term kratom use are also withdrawal symptoms. When someone becomes physically dependant upon a substance like kratom, it is likely that there is an addiction as well. Signs of a kratom addiction include:
- Decreased performance at school or work
- Regular use of kratom
- Avoiding of family and friends
- Associating with people who use kratom
- Desire and effort to obtain more kratom, often at the expense of other obligations
- Being secretive or defensive about kratom use
- Inability to feel normal without kratom
- Difficulty stopping the usage of kratom
Research on the Long-Term Effects of Kratom
More research is needed on the long-term effects of regular Kratom use. Even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet scheduled kratom as an illegal drug, this does not mean that it is not dangerous and harmful. Rather, the lack of action signals that more research is in process and needs to continue to inform the public on the health effects of using kratom. Initially, researchers studied kratom as a promising opioid alternative; however, the drug has a host of its own dangers and has a potential for addiction as well.
In the meantime, it’s important to look out for signs of kratom addiction and dependency. If you or a loved one struggle with a kratom addiction, recovery is possible. Contact Columbus Recovery Center to speak to a representative today about how medical detox and personalized addiction treatment and rehab can set you on a healthier life path.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is Kratom?” Accessed April 29, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Commonly Abused Drug Charts.” Accessed April 29, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village Columbus aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.