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Signs of Kratom Addiction

Kratom, while still a fairly new drug, is proving to be dangerous and potentially deadly. Many people who develop kratom dependence begin using it to taper off of opiates such as heroin.

Unfortunately, kratom can produce withdrawal symptoms very similar to that of traditional opioids. Kratom addiction also occurs in non-opiate users that abuse it under the misconception that because it is legal, it is safe. This simply isn’t true.

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  • By Phillippe Greenough
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    Phillippe Greenough

    Alongside writing and editing for The Summit Wellness Group, Phillippe is a pers … read more

  • Medically Reviewed By Dr. Mary Gay
    Dr Mary Gay

    Dr. Mary Gay

    Dr. Mary Gay is a Licensed Professional Counselor of GA in clinical practice sin … read more

  • Last Updated on May 23rd, 2024

In this article

Kratom Addiction Overview

Kratom addiction is an emerging, although very real, concern. Beginning either as a hobby, social activity, or withdrawal regimen, chronic use can lead to physical dependence. The timeline for human withdrawal symptoms is not defined, but in rodent studies, tolerance was observed in as early as five days of use. Daily use can progress to physical dependence, and later, full-blown addiction.

Kratom, also known as Biak-Biak and Thang, is a relative of the coffee plant. It was originally used in Thailand and Myanmar as a stimulant and pain reliever. It was consumed by chewing the leaves of the Mitragyna Speciosa tree.

Signs of Kratom Abuse

Some of the minor side effects one may experience while using kratom for extended periods of time includes:

  • Diaphoresis (excessive sweating)
  • Constipation
  • Polyuria (excessive urination)
  • Decreased Appetite and Subsequent Weight Loss
  • Confusion or Dizziness
  • Depressed Breathing
  • Anxiety and Agitation

Symptoms of Kratom Addiction

With chronic use, tolerance will build. This requires more kratom to achieve the same effects. When the dose used increases, the risks rise accordingly. Some of the more serious effects present in kratom addiction include:

  • Delirium
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Skin Discoloration (particularly of the face)
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Increased Aggression
  • Insomnia
Once addicted to kratom, when someone stops using it they will begin to experience kratom withdrawal symptoms. Because the symptoms are very similar to opioid withdrawal, it is recommended to treat kratom withdrawal at least as seriously. For reference, opioid withdrawal is not fatal in and of itself. It can lead to conditions which are potentially life threatening, especially if you have any preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes or a heart condition. The potential complications that could arise from kratom withdrawal are not fully known at this time. There may be risks involved during withdrawal from kratom.

Kratom Addiction: Risks and Dangers

Even though kratom has a reputation for being “safe and natural,” it is still killing people in America. Kratom also has a wide variety of drug interactions that can produce dangerous and fatal consequences such as seizures, hallucinations, coma, heart arrhythmias, and stroke. Chronic use can also cause liver and kidney damage in a short time—between 2 to 8 weeks of regular use. The LiverTox publication of the U.S. National Library of Medicine has rated kratom as having a “hepatotoxicity Score: B (likely cause of clinically apparent liver injury).”

Kratom use has become more popular in the United States over the last decade. Between 2011 and 2017, there were 1,807 calls to Poison Control Centers about kratom exposure. Of these calls, 65% were between 2016 and 2017, which means use rates are only increasing. Coupled with the opioid epidemic in America, kratom is seeing growing popularity among heavy drug users. It is used by people who are addicted to opioids to lessen withdrawal symptoms, but it often ends up becoming an addiction of its own. With long-term human clinical studies being unlikely, the negative effects will only be discovered as people begin to experience them after years of use. The safest option is to quit using kratom now, and this often requires help. Finding a detox center in Atlanta can make a good start, but it is often recommended to continue treatment at a rehab center.

The legal status of kratom is currently (December 2020) up in the air. It is legal on a federal level, but some states have made moves to control and criminalize possession. Due to issues caused by lack of regulation and oversight, health complications and deaths, and concerns over use by teens as a gateway drug, it is likely to become illegal on a federal level in the near future.


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