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Using Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal

Many people have begun using kratom as a means to stop taking opioids like heroin. The positive claims for this use are anecdotal and unfounded in science. It is not recommended to use kratom in this way, and it may even do more harm than good. While kratom can produce similar effects to opioids and may reduce the withdrawal symptoms, there is a very real possibility of becoming addicted to kratom itself.

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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 August 30th, 2021

In this article

    How Effective Is Kratom For Opiate Withdrawal?

    It is unclear how effective kratom is for opiate withdrawal. Unfortunately, this has not stopped people from trying it in this manner. The main active drugs in kratom do exhibit cross-tolerance to opioids. Since kratom does work on some of the same opioid receptors as standard opioids, it makes sense that withdrawal symptoms would be lessened through substitution. 

    Someone using kratom in this manner would be switching one chemical addiction for another. There are no documented studies even suggesting that kratom can be used as an addiction recovery aid. Even with a complete lack of medical or scientific evidence, there have been many anecdotal claims that kratom successfully treats opioid withdrawal.

    Kratom is a much weaker opioid receptor stimulator compared to standard opioid drugs. This means that someone addicted to opioids is going to have to do a large amount of kratom to suppress withdrawal symptoms. There is a lack of research on the dozens of psychoactive compounds in kratom. Early research does suggest that using large amounts can be dangerous, especially since long-term risks are not fully understood yet.

    Preliminary research published in 2019 indicates that kratom as an opioid detox treatment may have the opposite effect. Administration of 7-HMG, one of the major metabolites of mitragynine, increases future opioid intake and cravings. Also, 7-HMG itself is considered to have a high potential for abuse. This negates any claim that it may help with another addiction. While these findings still need to be reviewed at length, there seems to be no merit to the claims that kratom can help with opioid withdrawal.

    Kratom is in no way, shape, or form a safe substitute for more traditional opioids. It simply prolongs opiate addiction and fuels further use of heroin.

    Risks of Taking Kratom For Opiate Withdrawal

    Kratom addiction has become an alarming safety issue in the United States. The drug has gained more mainstream popularity in recent years. It was originally labeled as a dietary supplement, then later as a soap or incense to sidestep FDA restrictions. It is currently not subject to regulation under the Federal Controlled Substances Act as a drug.

    There has recently been a movement in the US towards regulation. Kratom is currently on the DEA Drugs of Concern watch list. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has also identified kratom as an emerging drug of abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has even recommended that the DEA include kratom as a “Schedule 1” drug. It currently has no accepted medical use and poses a high potential for abuse. Kratom is illegal in many countries around the world including Denmark, Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand (one of the countries from which it originates). As far as the use of kratom to detox from opioids and as a treatment for depression or anxiety, the Mayo Clinic has stated that it is “unsafe and ineffective.”

    If someone is struggling with using kratom for opiate withdrawal, we recommend entering an addiction treatment center such as our drug and alcohol rehab in Roswell or our sister treatment center in Atlanta.

    The length of time and amounts involved in developing a physical dependence on kratom are unknown. Withdrawal symptoms appear to resemble opioid withdrawal with the added possibilities of hallucinations and seizures. Unfortunately, there have been cases of children exhibiting signs of kratom withdrawal born to mothers who used kratom. These babies needed specialized neonatal care once born. While the following is speculation, this would seem to indicate that a dependence on kratom can develop in under 9 months.
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