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Kratom is a tropical tree harvested in Thailand and other areas of South Asia. In native regions, the leaves are chewed for energy and pain relief. Sometimes the leaves are boiled and made into tea or other beverages. The drug has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments.
How Does Kratom Work for Energy and Pain Relief?
Kratom leaves contain a variety of alkaloids. The two primary compounds, mitragynine and 7-hydroximitragynine, act upon the opioid receptors in the brain. In low doses, the drug causes stimulant effects; however, in higher doses, the drug produces pain relieving and sedation effects.
Why Do People Use Kratom?
In the East, Kratom has been used for hundreds of years in a variety of ways. The drug can be used in small amounts to increase productivity or taken in larger quantities for pain relief. It is attractive to young and old because of its reputation to increase energy or cause sedation and relieve troubling pain symptoms. It is also being used by those seeking to stop opiates and avoid withdrawal symptoms.
I’ve Never Heard of Kratom. Is It Illegal?
In Thailand, in 1949, the government passed a law making it illegal to plant and harvest the tree. Further, in 1979, the Thai government classified it as a Class 5 narcotic. In recent years, the drug has gained popularity on the Internet and is readily available in the U.S. from a variety of vendors. The drug is not regulated and very little solid information is available about how widely the drug is being used in this country.
Is Kratom Addictive?
Kratom is a form of opiate, so it is inherently addictive. While it works differently on the brain’s opioid receptors, users still develop dependence after using the drug for some time. Long-term users will require more of the substance to obtain desired effects. Further, withdrawal symptoms are experienced when attempting to stop using the drug.
How Do I Know If My Loved One Is Addicted?
Kratom abuse can be detected by observing a loved one’s habits. Is the person drinking tea or beverages with Kratom? Are they purchasing more and more of the substance via the Internet? Are they experiencing any of the following symptoms?
- Extremely talkative
- Sensitive to sunburn
- Mood swings
- Psychotic behaviors
- Loss of appetite
Are There Withdrawal Symptoms?
Kratom abusers experience withdrawal symptoms when they seek to stop using the drug. Like any addiction, quitting can be difficult. Seek help if the following symptoms are present upon quitting:
- Muscle aches
- Anger and aggression
- Mood swings
- Irregular muscle movements
Where Can My Loved One Seek Help?
Treatment for Kratom addiction will be similar to other sorts of addiction treatment. A period of detoxification is recommended followed by therapy. In-patient or out-patient programs may be recommended based on the length of time the addiction has been in place and the level of dependence. So much is unknown about Kratom, that it is extremely important to seek help from addiction specialists who can work with patients to integrate strong recovery techniques and principles for sustaining freedom from this binding addiction.
Boyer, E. W., Babu, K. M., Adkins, J. E., McCurdy, C. R., & Halpern, J. H. (2008, June). Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth). Addiction. 103(6): 1048-1050. Retrieved November 08, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3670991/
DEA. (2013, January). Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa korth). Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved November 8, 2016 from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/kratom.pdf
NIH. (2016, February 25). Kratom. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved November 08, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/kratom
Prozialeck, W., Jivan, J., & Andurkar, S. (2012). Pharmacology of Kratom: An Emergi Botanical Agent With Stimulant, Analgesic and Opioid-Like Effects. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. (Vol. 112). 792-799. Retrieved November 08, 2016, from http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2094342