What is Kratom?
Kratom is a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that can have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  warns consumers not to use this drug. The FDA is concerned that kratom, which affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of abuse and dependence, leading to kratom addiction.
When a person takes a mind-altering drug such as kratom, the brain’s natural chemistry is changed. Some of the chemical messengers produced in the brain and sent throughout the body may be stimulated, depressed, or not absorbed properly. Opioids, and likely kratom as well, interacts with other receptor systems in the brain to produce stimulant effects. When kratom is taken in small amounts, users report increased energy, sociability, and alertness instead of sedation. However, kratom can also cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous side effects, is easy to fall into abuse, and generate Kratom addiction.
Health Effects of Kratom
Reported Health Effects of Kratom use include:
- Dry Mouth
- Increased Urination
- Loss of Appetite
The FDA  reports that many of the kratom-associated deaths appeared to have resulted from taking kratom with other potent substances; including illicit drugs, opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, gabapentin, and over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup. Also, there have been some reports of kratom packaged as dietary supplements or dietary ingredients that were laced with other compounds that caused deaths. People should check with their health care providers about the safety of mixing kratom with other medicines.
Signs of Kratom Addiction
Drug dependence may be increased with higher doses, a longer time abusing the drug, polydrug abuse, underlying mental health or medical condition, history of substance abuse and or addiction, genetic contributors, and chronic stress or other environmental factors. Drug dependence is not the same as addiction, although when a person battles drug addiction, dependence is likely a symptom of the disease as are withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings when the drug is removed.
Kratom Addiction is Characterized By Behavioral Changes that Impact a Person’s Daily Life, such as:
- Increased risk-taking behaviors
- Continued use of the drug in full awareness of problems its use may create
- Decreased production at work or school
- Social withdrawal and increased secrecy
- Lack of interest in social, recreational, or other activities that used to be important
- Inability to stop using the drug despite multiple attempts to do so
- Lack of control over amount taken or duration of abuse
- Drug tolerance (needing to take more of the drug to feel its effects), drug dependence, and withdrawal symptoms
- Mood swings and a potential personality shift
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits, and a possible significant loss of weight
Kratom Addiction Withdrawal
Like other drugs with opioid-like effects, kratom might cause dependence, which means users will feel physical withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. Some users have reported becoming addicted to kratom.
Kratom Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Irritability and hostility
- Emotional changes
- Jerky body movements
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Hot flashes
Kratom Addiction Withdrawal Timeline
6 – 12 hours
Because of Kratom’s ability to give a feeling of euphoria and relaxation, when a person comes down from their high, they’re often left with a feeling of anxiety or even depression. Fighting the urge to feel euphoric again is the first challenge to kicking an addiction. It’s a vicious cycle.
In order to avoid the emotional discomfort of coming down, the person feels they must take more of the drug. Over time, they build up a tolerance and take it more often throughout the day to feel the same high. And so, the first step of withdrawal is understanding that a feeling of pleasure can be achieved without the drug and that the risk of overdose is not worth the quick fix.
Days 2 – 3
Within roughly 12 hours of coming down, the person will begin to experience the initial withdrawal symptoms. The typical symptoms a person may experience are:
- Aches and pains in their muscles
- A sense of irritability, anxiety, and trouble sleeping
- Excessive sweating, runny nose, and watering eyes
- A feeling of restlessness and general discomfort
During this part of a Kratom detox, the person may also feel strong cravings to start using again to avoid the overall discomfort. Kratom withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, resulting in an electrolyte deficiency.
Days 3 – 5
The most challenging part of the withdrawal process is the peak symptoms, which can last anywhere from a few days up to a week. Here, the most common symptoms are nausea and stomach pains, which will typically cause vomiting and diarrhea.
During this part of a Kratom addiction detox, it’s crucial to have medical assistance to alleviate the pain. It’s also strongly recommended to be surrounded by a community to help stay focused on progress and avoid relapsing.
Around Day 6 or 7
The peak symptoms will start to disappear after a few days, though some milder symptoms can remain. Depending on various factors such as frequency of use and each person’s unique body chemistry, these lesser symptoms can last for another week, or sometimes even two weeks. In general, the less intense the peak symptoms, the less time the milder symptoms will stick around, according to The Journal of Opioid Management.
Kratom addiction is treated in a similar manner as addiction to other substances. This generally involves supervised medical detox and behavioral therapy.
After 7 – 10 days
While the acute symptoms of a Kratom detox can be dealt with and will subside relatively quickly, some less intense ones can stick around for months and some for years. Some of the symptoms that may stick around longer are:
- A general feeling of anxiety
- Abrupt mood swings
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Physical symptoms
- Ongoing cravings to return to using the drug
These longer-term symptoms are why it’s crucial to seek medical help. Having professional support to manage these continuous withdrawal symptoms will help avoid a relapse.
Kratom Addiction Treatment
Like most opiates, kratom has significant withdrawal symptoms when detoxing without medical support. Kratom addiction withdrawal can be uncomfortable. There are several treatments available for kratom addiction. The first stages of treatment include detoxification. This involves safely helping the person to stop taking a drug.
The best way to get through withdrawal from this drug and reduce the chances of relapse is with therapy, support groups, and medication. An inpatient rehabilitation center is often the best place to receive all of these treatments in an environment conducive to a successful recovery.
Therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is an evidence-based treatment that is effective for many mental, behavioral, and substance abuse issues.
Behavioral Therapy or Counseling
This type of treatment can be performed by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or addiction counselor. It may also occur individually or in a group setting. Goals of treatment include:
- Developing methods to cope with drug cravings
- Working on a plan to prevent relapse, including how to avoid drugs or alcohol
- Discussing what to do if a relapse does occur
- Encouraging the development of healthy life skills
- Covering issues that may involve your relationships or job
Find the Right Mental Health Treatment Plan with Secondary Co-Occurring Addiction Diagnosis
The inpatient treatment approach works best as it aims to change the person’s behaviors. Also, help them establish social support systems and better methods of coping with stress. A person will likely experience many different side effects from kratom addiction. These side effects may be emotional, physical, or mental. For example, someone in withdrawal will likely experience many uncomfortable feelings and negative thoughts about life during the process of detox. Unfortunately for those with dependency, detox is an unavoidable first step towards recovery.
Please, do not try to detox on your own because the detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment.
Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up West Palm Beach Rehab. For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox and or addiction rehab may be required first. If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited for your individual needs.