Last updated: 07/2/2021
Author: Michael E. Wolf, PhD
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Kratom withdrawal happens when you abruptly stop using the drug after developing a dependence on the substance. Dependence is when you’ve used the drug so much that your body needs it in order to feel “normal.”
Like that of other opioids, Kratom withdrawal can lead to a variety of medical complications and health risks. Among these is a risk of relapse due to the discomfort involved with opioid withdrawal.8
Table of Contents
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
As a natural opioid that carries a risk of tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal, discontinuing kratom is similar to opioid withdrawal. However, kratom withdrawal patterns tend to be shorter and less intense in duration.
Typical symptoms of kratom withdrawal include:9
- Hot flashes
- Muscle aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Restless legs
- Runny nose
- Watering eyes
The risk of aspiration is also related to gastrointestinal distress. Vomiting during withdrawal can lead to stomach contents being inhaled into the lungs, resulting in inflammation of the lungs, pneumonia, and choking that could lead to death.
When excessive vomiting occurs, along with poor nutrition and eating habits, you may experience dehydration and disruption of electrolyte balance in the body. This can be a severe and often dangerous reaction.
Kratom Withdrawal Timeline
Kratom withdrawal symptoms often appear within 12-48 hours of the last dose and may last as long as 3 days. You may experience depression, anxiety, and insomnia that come and go. This can continue for as long as a few weeks or more.
Progressing through withdrawal over the next 2-4 days, many of these withdrawal symptoms may intensify between the second and fourth day with the presence of abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and dilated pupils. After 7-10 days, your symptoms will likely begin to subside.
Kratom withdrawal is often similar to opioid withdrawal with the duration depending on the degree of your dependence on the drug. Biology, genetics, mental and medical issues, and history of addiction are some other factors that may affect how long and severe your withdrawal experience is.
If you have been more dependent on kratom, you may experience a longer duration of withdrawal symptoms, experiencing such symptoms as:1
- Sleep problems
- Memory issues
These effects can last as long as a few weeks or even longer. If you’re thinking of detoxing from Kratom, seek professional help, as it can cause serious health complications,
Treatment for Kratom Withdrawal
Kratom withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, but it is typically not life-threatening and can be made easier by tapering off the drug. Withdrawal tends to be less severe by following common directions such as talking to your doctor, taking over-the-counter medications, and remaining calm and relaxed.10
If you think you’re going through kratom withdrawal, it may help talk to others who have been in the same situation. This will allow you to have a better understanding of your situation and potential withdrawal.
Medical professionals do not recommend stopping the use of kratom suddenly or doing it on your own. The extreme discomfort you may experience in trying to stop an opioid can result in extreme behavior ranging from suicidal thoughts and behaviors to aggressive actions and other emotional reactions.
You should be under medical supervision if you are trying to withdraw from kratom use and a proper tapering process is necessary.10 When you stop using kratom after developing dependence, your brain will experience a rebound effect that can be so quick that it results in withdrawal symptoms—this can be dangerous to your health.
Treatment of kratom withdrawal may involve going to a detox center to remove harmful substances from the body. This will require supervision by medical personnel and mental health professionals and may include medications to manage and treat your withdrawal symptoms.
Going through kratom withdrawal in a detox center will also allow you to deal with any other underlying issues that may have led to your kratom use, such as depression.
Medications for Kratom Withdrawal
Various drugs can help counter kratom withdrawal symptoms and reduce them significantly, such as anti-inflammatory medications, anxiolytic medications, and anti-depressants. If you are using other substances, your medications may be altered to prevent complications or negative drug interactions.
Treatment After Detox
Regardless of the type of withdrawal treatment sought, accompanying addiction treatment following detox is important to reduce your chances for relapse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that detox alone is insufficient for treating substance misuse disorders.11
Inpatient treatment combines detox in its recovery program along with continuing support and care. Involvement with this type of facility allows you to participate in individual and group therapy in addition to a 12-step recovery program.
Outpatient treatment, while less intensive, can be effective as a method of recovery from addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Partial hospitalization combines various factors from inpatient care and outpatient treatment that allows you to receive care and return home each night.
Call 800-926-9037 (Who Answers?) to learn about rehab or treatment options.
What is Kratom?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen tree that grows in Southeast Asia. It is native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and New Guinea.1 Many have used kratom routinely for several centuries because of its stimulant effects to increase energy, stamina, and manage fatigue.
Some of the street names for kratom include:
Kratom leaves contain strong alkaloids, which are naturally occurring nitrogen bases that have a pain-relieving and mood-altering effect on the brain. The psychoactive ingredients in kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.2
The leaves from the kratom tree are typically crushed and made into a fine powder and used as an herbal supplement by chewing, drying, and smoking, making capsules, tablets, or extract, or boiling into a tea.3 It is sold as a dietary supplement in tablet or powder form.
Effects of Kratom
Kratom has a stimulant effect like an anti-depressant if you use it in low doses, increasing energy and decreasing fatigue. If you use higher doses, you may experience the euphoric effects often seen with opioid drugs that could include sedation, euphoria, and a dreamlike state.4
Some individuals have taken it as a pain treatment or to improve mood, while others have used it to deal with the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Some people view kratom as an alternative to opiates, although it has an addictive potential similar to opioids.
Kratom has several side effects on your body.1 Some of the positive effects of kratom include:
- Pain relief
- Improved mood
- Increased energy
Kratom can also lead to potential negative side effects, including:
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Decreased respiratory functioning
- Liver damage
Dangers of Kratom
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has classified kratom as an opioid because it binds to open opioid receptors. This is the same part of the brain that becomes activated when taking opioids. When kratom enters your brain, it creates altered brain chemistry, acting like morphine on opioid receptors.
If you use kratom, you may become physically dependent because of its interaction with your brain’s opioid receptors. Despite its addictive nature, kratom is not a controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act. The FDA has not approved kratom for any medical use, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified kratom as a Drug and Chemical of Concern.5 The FDA has attempted to make kratom a controlled substance, although presently, it is still available for use.
Your risk for dependence on kratom is similar to that of opioids, although it may be a less severe reaction. If you repeatedly use kratom, you may have an increased tolerance for the substance, requiring increasingly higher doses to produce the same effect. If you use kratom frequently, you may have increased cravings leading to more frequent intake.
Kratom misuse and addiction have many signs, including:
- Weight loss
- Lack of sensitivity to physical or emotional pain
- Mayo Clinic. (2020, June 3). Kratom: unsafe and ineffective.
- National Library of Medicine. (2018, August 28). Severity of kratom psychological withdrawal symptoms.
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (2018, June 11). Kratom.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, April). Kratom drug facts.
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (2018, October 2). Drug fact sheet.
- National Institutes of Health. (2018, November). Kratom.
- Bethesda, M.D. (2015). Drugs of abuse: opioids. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Mayo Clinic. (2020, February 4). Tapering off opioids: when and how.
- American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2020, August 14). Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts and Figures
- KratomGuides. (2019, June 5). How to ease kratom withdrawal? Timeline & withdrawal methods.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Quick Guide for Clinicians Based on TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.