While kratom is still relatively new in the West, it has been responsible for an increasing number of overdose deaths. According to the CDC, between July 2016 and December 2017, there were 91 deaths where a kratom overdose was determined to be the primary cause of death.
What Are Some Common Types of Kratom?
Kratom comes in many different breeds, commonly referred to as strains and veins. They all have the same active ingredient, mitragynine, so the only relevant distinction to our discussion is the physical form that kratom comes in, as there are different processing techniques that may affect the potency and effects of kratom. Some of the different forms of kratom include:
- Capsules or Pills
- Loose Leaf
- Extracts or Concentrates
- Powdered Kratom Leaves
There are several different methods for extracting the active ingredient in kratom, and there can be significant differences in potency between these methods. Methanolic extractions appear to be the most potent ahead of ethanol and water, but there are several different sub-methods that can be used including microwave-assisted, ultrasound-assisted, and supercritical carbon dioxide extraction. The differing potencies between these methods lead to significant variability in the potency of consumer kratom products.
Signs & Symptoms Of A Kratom Overdose
Some of the more common signs of a kratom overdose may include:
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Very Small Pupils
- Confusion and Disorientation
- Slow and Labored Breathing
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Intense Sweating
- Flushed, Red Skin
- Unconsciousness (with an inability to wake up)
Some of the more severe symptoms of a kratom overdose can include:
- Hallucinations and Psychosis
- Severe Abdominal Pain
- Cardiac Arrest
- Respiratory Failure
What To Do If Someone Overdoses on Kratom
Medical treatment for a kratom overdose is mainly directed at supportive care, although there may be some medications that can help. Regardless, attention from medical professionals will certainly increase someone’s chances of surviving a kratom overdose. Some things that a bystander may do to help a victim of a kratom overdose include:
- Call Emergency Medical Services: Medical care is necessary; call an ambulance as soon as possible.
- Provide Simple Aid: If the person is suffering a seizure, wait until convulsions have ceased and then place them in the recovery position. If they continue to vomit, ensure their airway remains clear.
- Stay With Them Until Help Arrives: Remain with the victim until medical help arrives and be prepared to give as much information as possible to the paramedics.
Doing these 3 simple things can greatly improve someone’s chances of surviving a kratom overdose.
Kratom is a very dangerous drug, contrary to popular belief. It has proven to have potentially fatal interactions with a wide variety of commonly used medications. Additionally, since it is almost impossible to reliably know the purity and potency of kratom products, overdoses are unfortunately becoming more common.
The best way to avoid a kratom overdose is to stop using kratom, however, if someone is set on using this drug, there are some things they can do to reduce the risk of an overdose. Some of these harm-prevention practices include:
- Do Not Mix Kratom With Other Drugs: Kratom has been shown to produce potentially fatal interactions with other drugs and even commonly used medications. Take a look at our article “Top 5 Dangers of Kratom” for more information about fatal kratom-drug interactions.
- Stick To A Certain Brand And Form of Kratom: Kratom has shown wildly varying potency between different manufacturers and forms, so sticking with a single brand and type of kratom can provide the best chance for consistent potency.
If someone has suffered one kratom overdose and they continue to use this drug, it is likely they will experience another one at some point. The only way to be completely safe from a kratom overdose is to stop using the drug. The most effective way to quit is to enter a professional kratom rehab program.
Having as much information as possible about kratom overdoses can go a long way toward providing help if and when someone encounters an overdose. Here are some additional resources that may help someone be as educated and informed as possible when it comes to kratom overdoses.