Updated on June 3, 2024
5 min read

Kratom Uses, Risks & Addiction Treatment

Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea that can cause either stimulant-like wakefulness or opioid-like euphoria, depending on the dose.

People often chew kratom leaves or brew them into tea. More concentrated amounts are often in tablet form or sprinkled into food and drinks via a powder.

While it has great pain relief properties, many have also developed unhealthy addictions to it. If you’re careful with your use, however, you don’t have to worry about developing an addiction.

Can You Get Addicted to Kratom?

Yes, you can get addicted to kratom. Depending on how much you take, you may develop an addiction to its stimulant-like effects, which can cause wakefulness and better focus at lower doses.

On the other hand, a euphoric rush similar to how opioids make you feel can occur at higher doses of kratom. It can have sedative effects, like relaxation, pain relief, and decreased anxiety.

Because of this, people develop physical and psychological dependence on the substance. Combine that with searching out the drug despite harmful consequences, and you can develop an addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Kratom Addiction

Kratom addiction symptoms vary from person to person, depending on individual factors and the use of other drugs.

Someone addicted to kratom may show several signs, including:

  • Feeling an intense need to use kratom regularly
  • Gradually needing to take higher kratom doses to achieve the same physical effects
  • Experiencing an inability to focus on routine daily tasks
  • Being unable to stop using kratom
  • Experiencing financial difficulties connected to kratom use
  • Resorting to dangerous behaviors to obtain kratom, such as stealing
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence of kratom
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping or limiting kratom use
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Isolation from loved ones
  • Poor hygiene

It’s important to recognize these symptoms when using kratom or other addictive substances to avoid withdrawal and overdose. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, get medical intervention immediately.

Your healthcare provider can help you safely get off any substances you’re addicted to. Tapering your kratom use is the best course of action so you can avoid intense withdrawal symptoms and safely get on your recovery journey.

Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms

Like other drugs with opioid-like effects, kratom can cause physical dependence. Physical dependence occurs when the body adapts to functioning with the drug present.

When someone develops a kratom dependence and subsequently stops using the drug, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms occur. This is because the body thinks it’s no longer stable.

Kratom withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Behavioral changes
  • Runny nose
  • Jerky movements

It’s important to be vigilant about your symptoms. If they’re too intense, your doctor can put you on a tapering schedule or find other means to lessen the severity of your symptoms.

It’s important to manage your withdrawal symptoms properly, as withdrawal can often lead to relapse, overdose, and even more fatal consequences.

Kratom Overdose

Although limited information exists regarding kratom overdose rates, the drug has been linked to multiple death reports. However, most of these people also ingested other substances, so it is challenging to determine kratom’s role in the deaths.

Kratom is sometimes contaminated or laced with other potentially deadly substances. Mixing kratom with other drugs or alcohol is dangerous and should be avoided.

If a kratom overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention, or call 911 immediately. Find a local poison control center by calling the Poison Help hotline: 1-800-222-1222.


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Kratom Addiction Treatment

Currently, there are no specific medical treatments for kratom addiction. Additional research on kratom addiction treatment is needed to determine which methods are effective.

However, several treatment approaches may be helpful, including:

Kratom’s mind-altering effects may make it challenging to quit using the drug without assistance. That’s why we strongly recommend seeking professional treatment. Remember, overcoming addiction is possible with discipline, a good support system, and patience.

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What are the Risks of Kratom Use?

Kratom use is associated with several health risks, including severe physical and psychological side effects, especially at higher doses. People also develop addictions to kratom.

Reported kratom side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased urination
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney toxicity
  • Seizures

In some users, kratom use can also cause severe psychotic symptoms, including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Confusion

Due to reports about the dangers of kratom use, the FDA continues to warn consumers not to use any products containing kratom or its mind-altering compounds, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. More research is needed to determine kratom's safety and long-term side effects.

Despite its dangers, there is an increase in kratom street use in Western countries as a natural alternative for self-treatment of opioid withdrawal and pain.

Is Kratom a Controlled Substance?

Kratom is not considered a controlled substance in the United States, but its legal status varies by state. It’s currently recognized as a drug of concern⁠—while not currently banned by the Controlled Substances Act, it poses a risk to those who abuse it.

Kratom has a long history of traditional medicinal use in Africa and Southeast Asia, but its recreational use in the U.S. is steadily increasing.

Understanding kratom's use, physical and psychological effects and health risks is essential for preventing severe side effects and addiction.

The FDA reported that an estimated 1.7 million Americans aged 12 and older used kratom in 2021. An estimated 0.7% of people in the U.S. also used kratom in 2022, according to a study that focused on those aged 12 and up.

Legal Status of Kratom

Kratom is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any medical use, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists kratom as a Drug of Concern.

Kratom is illegal in several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Additionally, Tennessee law regulates the sale of kratom in its natural form but bans synthetic kratom alkaloids.

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Updated on June 3, 2024

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