Kratom Abuse and Addiction

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Updated 10/25/2022

Kratom use is becoming common in the United States. People use kratom because of its stimulant, pain killing and euphoric effects. It can have effects similar to stimulants or opioids depending on how much of the substance is used. Low doses of kratom can cause stimulant effects and higher doses usually cause a high similar to one experienced with opioids.

Over a five-year period, from 2010 to 2015,  poison centers across the United States received about 660 calls regarding kratom exposure. In April 2019, about 152 people who died of drug overdose had kratom present in their systems upon death. Although kratom addiction is not as large of a problem as opioid addiction, kratom use is growing and its side effects can be deadly.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is a drug derived from the Mitragyna speciosa plant. Kratom can be found as the dried leaf from the plant, which may be chewed, smoked or made into tea. It may also be processed into a green powder or resin which may be ingested or smoked. Again, kratom seems to have similar effects to both opioid medications and stimulants, and many users are seeking a high sensation with kratom use.

Is Kratom Addictive?

It is possible to become addicted to kratom. People who are addicted to or dependent on kratom may experience certain withdrawal symptoms, usually similar to those experienced with opioid withdrawal, when they stop using the drug. This risk is prominent in cases in which a person has used kratom in large doses for a large amount of time.

Because kratom is associated with both stimulant properties and opioid-like properties, addiction is possible. Stimulant addiction and opioid addiction are quite common in the United States.

If someone is addicted to or dependent on kratom, they can develop cravings for the drug. If a person feels like they need kratom to function normally, it is possible that they could be addicted to it.

Kratom dependence and addiction are not well understood, but someone who is addicted may display the following signs:

  • Reduced performance at school or work
  • Frequent kratom use
  • Social problems or withdrawal from social activity
  • Overwhelming desire to get more kratom and forgoing other obligations to obtain it
  • Acting secretive or defensive about kratom use
  • Hiding kratom use from others
  • Experiencing personality changes
  • Continuing to use kratom despite negative effects on their life or health
  • Inability to quit using kratom

Understanding Kratom Addiction

If you suspect someone close to you is abusing kratom, it’s important that you help them find appropriate treatment options. Kratom withdrawal can be uncomfortable and even dangerous. Since kratom is a relatively new drug to the United States, the study of kratom addiction and how to treat it is somewhat lacking, but since it has similarities with opioid addiction, it is likely that similar modalities can be used to treat kratom addiction.

Some people who stop using kratom may require a detox program to assist with their recovery. Professional evaluation and therapy can help address kratom addiction issues and aid in recovery.

Finding Treatment for Kratom Addiction

If you live with a kratom addiction, consider seeking professional addiction treatment.

View Sources “Kratom.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, April 2019. Accessed May 5, 2019. “Prescription Stimulants.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, June 2018. Accessed May 5, 2019.

Anwar, Mehruba, et al. “Notes from the Field: Kratom (Mitragyna […] States, 2010–2015.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 29, 2016. Accessed May 5, 2019.

O’Malley Olsen, Emily, et al. “Notes from the Field: Unintentional Drug[…]016–December 2017.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 12, 2019. Accessed May 5, 2019.

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