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What is Kratom?

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Kratom refers to an extract from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree which is native to Southeast Asia. The compounds found in these leaves can have mind-altering or psychotropic effects. Kratom is legal in the United States and is often sold as an energy booster, mood enhancer, and pain reliever. In some cases, kratom is used to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. 

Despite this psychotropic drug being legal, it is not always safe. There are numerous safety-related concerns when it comes to using kratom. Kratom is often sold as a green powder (labeled ‘not for human consumption’) and is used by any of the following methods: 

  • Pill or capsule
  • Extract
  • Gum or chewing the leaves
  • Brewing leaves or powder into a tea
  • Eating the leaves in foods 
  • Smoking the leaves

Depending on the method of consumption as well as the amount consumed, kratom can have different effects on people. In addition, the health of the individual can play an important role in the effects of kratom on the body. For some, it is more dangerous than for others. 

Once consumed, the effects begin to be felt within about 20 to 40 minutes. These can last for up to six hours with the peak effects occurring around two hours after using it. In low doses, kratom can act as a stimulant and deliver energizing effects. In higher doses, kratom can bring on euphoric feelings, relieve pain, and even act as a sedative. 

How Does Kratom Affect People? 

Many people use kratom because it is ‘all natural’ and they believe it is safe. However, as mentioned, this isn’t always the case. One of the problems with using kratom is that the active ingredient can vary greatly. Therefore, the user never really knows how much they are getting. This can be troublesome for various reasons. For example, if an individual wanted to use kratom for its energizing effects for a drive they were taking but ended up with sedative effects. Energizing effects occur at low doses but if the kratom they consumed had an unusually high amount of active compounds then the effects could produce sedation which would make it very dangerous to drive. Currently, this drug is unregulated and it is impossible to know exactly what you are getting. 

Side Effects of Kratom 

Additionally, there are certain health concerns with kratom use in general. Some of these reported health side effects are: 

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Sweating 
  • Itching 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increase in urination

Kratom acts on opioid receptors and other receptor systems in the brain. The active chemicals found in kratom which produce these side effects are mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine. In different doses, they produce different effects as mentioned. 

The above-listed symptoms may occur with the first use of kratom. Using kratom regularly or long-term can also have side effects in addition to these. These long-term side effects of kratom can include:

  • Liver damage
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Weight loss

Not only does kratom impact the body in these dangerous and unpleasant ways, but it also has an effect on the mind and body’s nervous system. These effects can include: 

  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Breathing issues
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Coma
  • Death

The Poison Control Center reported 1,800 calls with individuals who had taken kratom between 2011 and 2017. Additionally, a 2019 report analyzing data from the National Poison Data System found 11 deaths associated with kratom use. Of the 11, nine involved other substances or medicines in addition to kratom, however, two involved kratom alone. As kratom gains more popularity and use increases, it’s important to be aware that this legally sold substance can be a dangerous drug. 

Kratom has been found to sometimes be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Reports show that 138 people in 38 states became ill from salmonella after consuming kratom. This report was as of April 2018. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has linked 35 deaths to salmonella-contaminated kratom. This is yet another safety concern kratom use poses. Another question commonly asked about kratom is “is kratom addictive?”

Is Kratom Addictive? 

As with other substances that act on opioid receptors, individuals can become dependent on kratom which can then lead to addiction. Users report becoming addicted to kratom and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop. According to research, individuals who used kratom to treat opioid withdrawal for more than six months reported withdrawal symptoms very much like those of opioid withdrawal. And, users of kratom who have become addicted have been treated with medications, like Narcan and Buprenex, used to treat opioid withdrawal.

There’s no doubt that kratom is addictive. Knowing the following signs of kratom withdrawal can help to determine if someone is addicted. When an individual stops using kratom or cuts down significantly they may experience any of the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Jerky body movements
  • Mood changes
  • Runny nose 

In addition, the typical signs of addiction are also important to look for in someone who is using kratom. These include the inability to stop using despite wanting to as well as behaviors that are centralized around getting, using, and recovering from the drug. 

It’s important to understand that despite kratom being legal and easily obtainable online, it is a dangerous drug with side effects that can cause permanent issues and even death in some cases. If you or someone you love is using kratom and you think there may be a problem, Futures Recovery Healthcare is here for you. Offering treatment programs for individuals with varying needs our caring professionals treat everyone with respect and are devoted to helping all clients recover. 

Treatment for Kratom Addiction 

Treatment for kratom addiction is similar to treatments for opioids and other addictions. Evidence-based therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT) have both been shown to be successful in treating kratom addiction. Kratom is relatively new in the United States and more research is needed into specifics of kratom addiction as well as the best treatment approaches. 

As with all addiction treatment programs, comprehensive treatment tailored to meet each person’s unique needs is essential. In addition, any underlying issues that may be contributing to or exacerbating the problem should be addressed. 

At Futures, we believe in comprehensive, holistic care for each person we treat. Our caring, compassionate staff take the time to thoroughly evaluate each individual and find the program best for them. Addiction treatment is not a one size fits all approach. Discover our three treatment programs for addiction and see which one may be a fit for you or a loved one; Core, Orenda, Rise

Call us today and start recovering tomorrow. Visit online or call 866-804-2098.

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