Kratom is derived from the foliage of a tree indigenous to Southeast Asia. While not classified as an illegal substance, it is readily available online as leaves or powder. The packaging often bears a disclaimer that kratom is not meant for human consumption, yet it the substance commonly consumed for non-medical purposes. Some people have turned to kratom to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, although the effectiveness of this approach lacks robust scientific support.
DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) is in the process of potentially categorizing kratom’s active compounds as Schedule I substances, which would outlaw certain preparations of the substance. At present, DEA has the authority to confiscate most forms of kratom, except for its raw leaf version.
Side Effects of Kratom
There is limited research on the effects of kratom. No clinical trials have been carried out to determine its safety for human consumption. Our current knowledge primarily relies on anecdotal reports from healthcare professionals and those who use the drug, as well as animal studies.
Researchers have identified over 20 biologically active compounds in kratom, including some that bind to mu-opioid receptors in the brain, potentially leading to dependence and addiction.
Beyond this, certain substances found in kratom can interfere with liver enzymes responsible for drug metabolism, potentially triggering dangerous interactions when combined with other medications. Reports of overdoses, some fatal, have been linked to the concurrent use of kratom and other drugs.
Due to the diverse chemical composition of kratom, its short-term effects can vary substantially. Also, dosage impacts the effects of kratom.
- Low doses: At lower doses of 1g to 5g, kratom tends to trigger stimulant-like effects within 10 minutes. These effects last for 60 to 90 minutes. While most people find these effects enjoyable, some may experience anxiety and agitation. The primary stimulant side effects are like those of amphetamines but milder, including increased energy, alertness, reduced appetite, heightened sociability, and increased libido.
- High doses: Kratom’s effects become more opioid-like at doses from 5g to 15 g, lasting several hours. The euphoria associated with kratom use is generally milder than that of traditional opioids, with some people describing it as unpleasant. Other opioid-like effects include pain relief, drowsiness, a calm and dreamlike mental state, cough suppression, and a reduction in opioid withdrawal symptoms. Doses exceeding 15g can lead to extreme sedation and, in some cases, loss of consciousness, resembling high opioid doses.
Kratom use can result in various negative side effects, ranging from mild to severe, similar to those of both stimulants and opioids. These side effects, like the desired effects, depend on dosage and include:
- Constricted pupils
- Facial flushing
- Loss of motor coordination
While serious toxic effects appear to be rare – particularly with lower doses – there is limited information available to assess the long-term side effects and potential dangers of kratom use. Most severe toxic reactions have been associated with kratom doses of 15g or more, often characterized by seizures.
Kratom Side Effects Long-Term
While the short-term effects of kratom use have been the focus of much research and discussion, the long-term side effects of kratom remain less understood due to limited scientific investigation. Some people have reported experiencing some persistent side effects after prolonged kratom use. Individual responses may vary, and more research is needed to establish a comprehensive understanding of the long-term effects of kratom.
Prolonged and heavy kratom use may be associated with various physical health concerns. These can include weight loss, digestive issues such as constipation, and potential harm to the liver. That said, the extent and causative relationship between these issues and kratom use require further investigation.
Some people have reported experiencing psychological side effects from long-term kratom use. These may include mood swings, irritability, and even symptoms of depression and anxiety. Again, more research is needed to establish whether these effects are directly attributable to kratom use and to what extent.
Like many substances with opioid-like properties, using kratom long-term leads to the development of tolerance. This means that individuals may need to consume increasing amounts to achieve the desired effects, which could lead to greater risks of dependence and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of kratom have also been reported, but the severity and duration of these symptoms can vary widely from person to person.
Long-term kratom use may have social and occupational consequences. Some people have reported that their kratom consumption interferes with their daily lives, including work, relationships, and overall well-being.
Dangers of Kratom Side Effects
While kratom is often promoted as a natural alternative for pain relief and other therapeutic purposes, the short-term and long-term side effects of the substance can pose significant risks.
One of the most pressing dangers of kratom use is the potential for dependence and addiction. Kratom contains compounds that act on opioid receptors in the brain. Resultantly, regular and prolonged use can lead to physical and psychological dependence. People may find it challenging to quit or reduce their kratom consumption, and withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, including anxiety, irritability, and cravings.
Kratom can have adverse effects on physical health, especially when used in excessive amounts or over an extended period. Reports of liver toxicity and other gastrointestinal issues have emerged, raising concerns about the potential harm to vital organs. Additionally, weight loss and malnutrition may occur in some individuals who rely heavily on kratom.
Kratom has been associated with mood disturbances, including anxiety and depression, in some people. Prolonged kratom use can lead to changes in mental well-being, impacting overall quality of life and mental health.
Kratom contains compounds that can interfere with drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver, sometimes leading to dangerous interactions with other medications. Individuals who are taking prescription drugs should exercise caution when using kratom, as these interactions can be dangerous.
The kratom market is largely unregulated, leading to concerns about the quality and purity of products available for purchase. Contaminants, adulterants, or varying levels of active compounds can be present in kratom products, posing additional health risks.
While kratom overdose is relatively rare, it is not impossible, especially when used in excessive quantities or in combination with other substances. Symptoms of kratom overdose may include:
- Extreme sedation
- Loss of consciousness
- Life-threatening respiratory depression
Due to such limited scientific research on kratom, there are no standardized dosage guidelines for its safe use. This lack of guidance increases the risk of someone consuming doses that may be unsafe or unpredictable in their effects.
Treatment for Kratom Side Effects
Treatment for kratom long term side effects should begin with supervised detoxification at a professional facility staffed with trained medical personnel who can closely monitor progress and provide necessary medical support. Engaging with a supervised detox can streamline the kratom withdrawal process.
Given that kratom dependence is a relatively new and infrequent issue in Western countries, there are no established, specific treatment protocols for managing kratom withdrawal and addiction. Currently, the scientific literature mentions only a limited number of medications that have shown some utility in treating individuals dealing with kratom addiction and withdrawal. These medications are like those employed in the treatment of opioid addiction and include dihydrocodeine (a mild opioid) and lofexidine, (a medication designed for hypertension management).
Following detox, ongoing outpatient treatment should be sufficient to help people unpack the psychological aspect of dependence on kratom. Here’s how you can achieve this.
Get Treatment for Drug Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers
We treat all addictions and mental health conditions in an outpatient setting at Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH. When you choose outpatient therapy at our treatment facility, you can meet your everyday obligations without compromising your recovery. We offer more intensive treatment programs for those who require a more structured experience.
All Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs deliver tailored, evidence-based therapies that combine medication-assisted treatment, talk therapies, counseling, and holistic interventions. All treatment programs also include a comprehensive aftercare component.
To start tackling drug addiction head-on, call 877-679-2132.