Over the past 20 years, the popularity of kratom has increased considerably in the United States. But many people who use it aren’t aware of the damage it can cause. This lack of information includes not knowing if they can become addicted to this substance and failing to understand what could happen to them during kratom withdrawal.
What is Kratom?
Before we delve into what happens during kratom withdrawal, it can be helpful to review a few fundamental facts about what this substance is and why people use it.
Kratom is derived from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree, which is native to several Southeast Asian nations. In that part of the world, it has been used since at least the 1800s. In the United States, kratom did not begin to become popular until the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Kratom can be ingested in many ways, including by chewing it, smoking it, grinding it into a powder and adding it to food, dissolving it into a liquid, or brewing it into a tea.
Today, it is illegal to possess or use kratom in several European and Asian nations. Many states in the U.S. have also banned it, but there are currently no federal laws regulating its use or possession.
In April 2022, the FDA issued a statement warning people against using it because, among other reasons, “there is inadequate information to provide reasonable assurance that [kratom] does not present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury.”
Why Do People Use It?
Historically, people used kratom for the following reasons:
- As a stimulant (energy booster), primarily by laborers who were attempting to fend off the effects of fatigue and continue to work.
- Use as an analgesic (pain reliever), especially if opium was not available.
- As an element of certain religious ceremonies.
Today, in addition to the reasons listed above, people may also use kratom as a recreational substance, due to its stimulant- and opioid-like effects. Some people also use kratom to alleviate stress, to self-medicate some mental health symptoms, as an appetite suppressant, or to ease cravings and other symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Problems With Using Kratom
Regardless of why a person uses kratom, doing so can expose them to various degrees of harm. Potential problems that have been associated with kratom use include:
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Dangerously shallow breathing
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Liver damage
- Overdose and death
Also, unsafe practices in the manufacture and storage of kratom can increase the dangerousness of this substance.
For example, in 2018, after an outbreak of salmonella affected people in 41 states, the FDA, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and state-level investigators found salmonella in 37 separate products that contained kratom.
Can You Become Addicted to Kratom?
Though kratom shares some effects with morphine and other opioids, it is not as highly addictive as these types of drugs. But that doesn’t mean that kratom use poses no risk of addiction.
Multiple sources, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), have reported that heavy or long-term kratom use can cause symptoms that are consistent with a substance use disorder (which is the clinical term for addiction).
As we will discuss a bit later in this post, some people also experience kratom withdrawal when they try to end their use of this substance. Withdrawal symptoms are one of the classic signs of addiction.
Does Kratom Show Up on a Drug Test?
Most standard drug screens are known as five-panel tests. This refers to the fact that they evaluate a person’s blood, urine, saliva, or hair for five substances: amphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP).
It is unlikely – though not impossible – that kratom would show up on a standard five-panel test. But this doesn’t mean that kratom is undetectable.
Some sources report that kratom alkaloids could possibly show up on a five-panel screen. And there is a high likelihood that kratom use could be detected via a 10-panel screen or a test that is specifically designed to find evidence of kratom in a person’s hair or bodily fluids.
What to Expect With Kratom Withdrawal
This distress of kratom withdrawal (or fears of what may occur during the withdrawal process) can keep people trapped in the downward spiral of compulsive kratom abuse.
But when you understand what to expect during kratom withdrawal, and you learn about treatment options such as detox, you’ll be better prepared to take the necessary steps so you can finally free yourself from this substance.
Possible Symptoms of Kratom Withdrawal
- Watery eyes and runny nose
- Excessive perspiration
- Abdominal cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tics, tremors, and spasms
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Anxiety and irritability
If the intensity of kratom withdrawal prevents you from ending your use of this drug on your own, you may want to consider getting help at an addiction treatment center that offers detoxification, or detox.
While you’re in detox, you will be under the care of trained professionals who can help you manage your discomfort and ensure you complete the process safely.
Is There Treatment for Kratom Addiction?
The good news about kratom addiction is that it can be treated. The type of care that will be most beneficial can vary considerably from one person to the next according to factors such as:
- How long they have been abusing kratom (and how much they’ve been using)
- If they have previously been treated for an addiction to kratom or another substance
- When they are currently abusing or addicted to any other substances
- If they are experiencing kratom withdrawal symptoms
- If they have any co-occurring mental health concerns
The answers to these questions can help addiction treatment professionals determine which medications, types of therapy, and levels of care may be best for each patient.
Remember: There is no single type of treatment that works for everyone who has become addicted to kratom. What’s most important is finding a provider that will assess the full scope of your needs, then develop an individualized plan just for you.
Contact Our Los Angeles Addiction Treatment Center
If you have become addicted to kratom or another substance, Los Angeles Detox can help. Our addiction center in Los Angeles, California, offers a full continuum of care, including detox for people who need professional help to get through kratom withdrawal.
After completing detox, you can transition directly into a residential or outpatient program. With the help of our knowledgeable and compassionate caregivers, you can begin to develop the skills that will empower you to build a healthier life for yourself, free from the chains of compulsive kratom abuse.
When you’re ready to get started, the LA Detox team is here for you. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call our center today.