Drug Use

What is Kratom?

Kratom, or mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical evergreen tree related to the coffee family and found in Southeast Asia including in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. Katrom leaves have been used since the late 19th century for medical use including chronic pain treatment. Kraton leaves contain opioid compounds that act on opioid receptors in the brain which produces mind-altering effects. Kratom has recently gained popularity in the United States as an herbal supplement used for pain relief, mood enhancement, and as an aphrodisiac. Kratom is also called herbal speedball, biak-biak, katum, thang, kahuam, and thom.

The U.S. Drug enforcement agency (DEA) slated it for legalizing, but later in 2017 reversed its intentions and labeled Kratom as a drug of concern. Thailand, a country in which Kratom leaves have long been used by civilians, recently legalized it.

Regardless of its legal status, Kratom leaves can be addictive and since this is currently legal in the U.S. teens and young adults tend to use kratom. Addiction can occur more quickly in teens and young adults and the side effects can be more detrimental. It’s important to realize that while kratom is legal, it can be addictive and dangerous.

How Does Kratom Affect The Body?

Kratom is consumed by chewing the leaves, eating it in food or a drink, or sometimes it is smoked. This supplement comes in powder or tablet form. The effects can be felt in around 20 to 60 minutes after ingesting it. These effects generally peak at about two to four hours but can last for up to around six hours. How these effects are felt and how long they last depend on factors such as the amount consumed and other factors.

Kratom works in the brain by interacting with opioid receptors. Two compounds found in kratom, mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine, work with different receptor systems and produce different effects. Kratom is said to have stimulant-like effects in low doses and opioid-like pain-relieving effects in higher doses.

Side Effects of Kratom

While kratom can produce relaxation, pleasure, and pain reduction, it can also produce negative side effects. As mentioned, the amount of kratom taken in part affects the side effects experienced.

Short-term side effects can include:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved and enhanced mood
  • Increased outgoingness and sociability
  • Increased alertness
  • Relief of pain
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Constipation

Long-term effects can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Anorexia
  • Hallucinations and delusions (in high doses)
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Seizures
  • Skin darkening

When a person continues to take kratom for periods longer than medically intended, the risk for addiction develops. As with other drugs, the age at which a person begins taking a drug can impact if addiction develops. Kratom is becoming more and more popular with teens and young adults. The younger a person begins using a drug or drinking alcohol the greater the risk of developing a substance use disorder.

It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of a kratom addiction in yourself or a loved one.

Signs and Symptoms of Kratom Addiction

Many of the signs of addiction to kratom will show in a person’s behaviors and physical traits. Look for overall changes in personality, habits, and moods. Changes in these areas can indicate an addiction.

When you’re trying to identify a kratom addiction, look for signs of use. These include many of the short- and long-term effects listed above. If you are continually seeing these signs, the person may be using kratom on a regular basis and developing a dependence. Dependence on kratom can also be determined by seeing if you or your loved one experience withdrawal symptoms when not using it.

Here are some other signs of kratom addiction to know:

Physical Symptoms

  • Feeling abnormal or ‘not okay’ without using kratom
  • Frequently taking it
  • Hiding how much you have or how much you’re using
  • Spending increased time using or getting it
  • Feeling restless when you aren’t taking it or when you run out
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Having issues at work or school
  • Spending time with different friends
  • Getting defensive if questioned about kratom use
  • Being secretive
  • Avoiding friends and family

The more symptoms of addiction someone exhibits the more likely it is that they have developed a dependence on kratom.

Signs and Symptoms of Kratom Withdrawal

Physical dependence can develop when a person takes a substance over and over. The body becomes used to having the substance to function and when the drug use is stopped the body must then adapt to not having the substance. During this transitional time, the person may experience withdrawal symptoms.

The type of withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom addiction can be uncomfortable and difficult to navigate alone without professional help. Many times an individual will relapse in order to stop the difficult withdrawal symptoms. When you get professional addiction treatment this lessens the chances of a relapse and increases your chances of recovery.

Since kratom produces opioid-like effects, some of the withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of opioid withdrawal.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Jerky or unstable movements
  • Sleeping problems
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose

Behavioral Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Hostile behaviors
  • Moodiness

If you or a loved one experience any of these withdrawal symptoms when you stop using kratom, you have probably become dependent.

Treatment for Kratom Addiction

Kratom and its increased use are relatively new in the U.S. While more research is needed into kratom addiction and what treatment methods are most successful there are certain approaches that have been helpful.

Many of the same evidence-based therapies that work well with opioid addictions also have been a successful part of treatment for those with kratom addictions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT), and cognitive processing therapy are all types of programming that have helped those with a kratom addiction recover.

Effective addiction treatment must be comprehensive and address both physical dependencies as well as cognitive and emotional reasons for using the drug. It’s essential that treatment programs provide support for both.

At Caron, we believe in Recovery For Life and provide Comprehensive Addiction Treatment. If you or a loved one are ready to get help for a problem with kratom, we’re just one call away. Contact us today online or call 1-800-854-6023.

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