A Dangerous, Accessible Drug
According to a cross-sectional survey published in the journal Addiction1, an estimated 3.3 million Americans have used kratom at some point in their lives. In general, people misusing this drug were younger men, students, and healthcare professionals. Why is this drug still legal in much of the U.S., and does it have harmful properties? Today, we’ll answer the question on everyone’s minds: is kratom addictive?
What is Kratom?
First, we should begin by explaining what this drug is. Kratom’s scientific name is Mitragyna speciosa, and it’s a plant that contains mu opioid partial agonists. If the word “opioid” rings a bell, you’ve already made the connection about why people abuse this drug. Many Americans take it for its mind-altering effects, while a select subset uses it in an attempt to overcome opioid use disorder. Unfortunately, just because a substance is natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you—or even safe to consume.
Effects of Kratom
In small doses, kratom stimulates your nervous system. This causes talkativeness, heightened alertness, and increased physical energy.
In larger doses, its effects are reversed, resulting in sedation and psychotic symptoms. Psychosis occurs when someone sees and hear things that aren’t there. They may also begin to experience delusions: persistent, frightening thoughts that are unreasonable or paranoid.
Regardless of dosage, kratom also produces a host of uncomfortable side effects2. People using this drug become nauseated, itchy, and may sweat profusely. Some vomit or fall asleep without meaning to. Others become constipated while also urinating more frequently. Serious health complications can occur from long-term use, including tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), seizures, insomnia, anorexia, and hepatotoxicity (chemical-driven liver damage).
Is Kratom Addictive?
While scientists are still learning more about kratom, most findings indicate that it may have addictive potential. Those at greatest risk? Young men attempting to overcome opioid addiction in their own homes. In recent years, this substance has gained notoriety as a potential “do-it-yourself” treatment for addiction. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that kratom may simply replace the use of opioids, resulting in a renewed cycle of substance abuse.
In a recent intervention, Intervention On Call’s founder confronted a client in the grips of kratom addiction. “I intervened on a fellow who was on kratom trying to get over an opiate addiction,” said Sam Davis. “He was eating the leaves. In his room, he had stuff everywhere, and he was just chewing on leaves. People take this thinking they’re sober, thinking it’s helping them, and that’s crazy.”
Signs of kratom addiction include:
- Using in spite of the consequences (relationship issues, health problems, job loss)
- Spending all one’s money on the substance
- Choosing to use instead of participating in social events, hobbies, or other activities
- Using more than intended
- Trying and failing to quit
- Erratic, violent, or unpredictable behavior
- Profuse sweating
- Inability to perceive painful stimuli
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Freedom from Kratom Addiction
If your loved one has become reliant on kratom, we understand how you’re feeling. A family member’s addiction is a minefield that no one is prepared to navigate. At Intervention On Call, our licensed interventionists share their decades of experience with clients for a low, fixed rate. Our one-hour consultations are in-depth and can be repurchased, ensuring that you have the tools needed to prepare for a kratom intervention. Contact us to start your family’s healing journey.