Are You Addicted to Kratom?
Kratom (also known as thom, ketum, and thang), is derived from a tree native to Southeast Asia. The leaves produce stimulant effects in low doses and sedative and euphoric effects in high doses.2,3 Some people also self-treat opioid withdrawal symptoms with kratom.1
Users who become addicted to kratom should seek substance abuse treatment to safely detox and avoid the health effects of long-term use.
Is Kratom Addictive?
Yes, kratom can be addictive, and regular use can lead to physical and psychological dependence in users. 1,2,3
Dependence occurs when neurons in the user’s brain adapt to the regular presence of kratom and only function normally when kratom is in the user’s system. When the person stops taking the drug or reduces the dose, they may experience a range of physiological reactions (withdrawal symptoms). 8
Someone who is addicted to kratom has likely developed physiological dependence to the drug. These people may experience strong cravings for the drug and may compulsively use it despite negative consequences. For example, users may feel that they need the drug to be more productive at work even though it may be affecting their health.
Kratom withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Muscle aches.
- Cold symptoms, such as a runny nose.
- Emotional problems. 1
Between 2010 and 2015, U.S. poison centers received 660 calls from people who reported problematic kratom exposure. 6 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths have been attributed to kratom use. 6 In some cases, other dangerous compounds mixed with commercial forms of kratom may have contributed to lethal overdose. 1
How to Tell If You or a Loved One Is Addicted
Kratom use may be difficult to detect. Many of its effects are easily confused with those of other drugs. In general, people become more talkative and active at low doses and increasingly lethargic as they take more. The person’s pupils may be slightly constricted, and he or she may exhibit some facial flushing or redness. 4
Signs of addiction include:
- Increased tolerance to the drug (needing more to achieve the desired effect).
- Using kratom to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
- Loss of control over kratom use.
- Focusing on acquiring kratom, using it, and recovering from its effects.
- Abandoning hobbies and other activities to use kratom.
- Continuing to use regardless of consequences. 5
Substance abuse leads to behavior changes as well. Users might:
- Act suspicious.
- Have trouble at school or work.
- Get into legal trouble.
- Begin to hang out with a new group of friends.
- Need money.5
Getting Treatment and Starting Recovery
To date, no specific medications or behavioral treatments for kratom have been studied. 1 However, drugs used to treat kratom addiction and withdrawal in Europe include antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, a dihydrocodeine-lofexidine combination, and antianxiety medications. 4
In addition, certain forms of substance abuse treatment and therapy have helped many different types of drug users. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy trains users how to recognize triggers that lead to drug use and teaches alternate responses to those triggers.
For many, a supervised detoxification program provides a solid foundation for recovery. Following detox, ongoing substance use treatment for kratom addiction is available in a variety of settings and formats. 7
- Inpatient or residential programs offer a focused setting for recovery. Care may consist of group and individual counseling, medications, aftercare planning, and other recovery activities in a community of sober peers. Many programs offer a structured period of detox at the start of treatment.
- Outpatient care involves scheduled visits to a treatment facility that can range from daily to periodically. Treatment, while less intense than inpatient, includes counseling in individual and group settings and may include medications.
- Partial hospitalization or day treatment programs combine the benefits of intensive inpatient care with outpatient care’s flexibility. Services include group therapy, medical care, and medication management.
- Dual diagnosis care, whether in an inpatient or outpatient care setting, focuses on the treatment of both mental health and substance abuse issues. Some people who become addicted to kratom may also be struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, or other psychological problems.
- 12-step and non-12-step programs rely on peer-guided and self-managed recovery methods. Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery are examples. Often, members partner with a sponsor who helps them complete a structured, step-by-step program.
It can be helpful to ask the following questions while seeking the treatment setting that’s right for you.
- How much does the program cost?
- Where is the facility or program located?
- Is the facility properly licensed and accredited?
- What kind of feedback is available on the program and services offered?
- What is the program’s philosophy (ex., 12-step, evidence-based)?
- What are the staff’s qualifications?
Paying for Treatment
If you’d like to learn more about insurance and payment options for kratom addiction recovery programs, call our helpline at 1-888-319-2606
Cost varies tremendously and depends on what kind of kratom recovery program it is, the facility’s location, and special amenities.
Financial issues do not have to be a roadblock. For example, you might:
- Use insurance coverage.
- Put the cost or part of the cost on a credit card.
- Borrow the money from a lender, friends, or family.
- Ask for help from a crowdfunding site such as GoFundMe.com.
- Sell something of value.
- Be eligible for some type of government or private assistance program.
Short- and Long-Term Side Effects of Kratom Dependence
Several cases of psychosis have been reported in long-term users.
Kratom use results in a number of side effects, both short- and long-term.
Many people ingest kratom in pill form. But it may also be dissolved and drank as a tea. Kratom effects occur within 5-10 minutes after ingestion and last 2-5 hours. 3
Short-term effects include:
- Appetite loss.
- Dry mouth.
- Easily sunburned.
- Excessive urination.
Kratom also has several reported long-term effects, which include:
- Skin coloration.
- Chronic loss of appetite and resulting weight loss.
- Insomnia 2,3
Several cases of psychosis have been reported in people who were addicted to kratom. Symptoms included hallucinations, delusions, and confusion. 1,2,3
Find a Treatment Program for Kratom Addiction
If you or someone you care about is ready to break the cycle of kratom addiction, help is only a phone call away. Call one of treatment support specialists at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? . They can answer questions you may have about treatment and finding the right program for you.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016). DrugFacts-Kratom.
. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (2015). Drugs of Abuse.
. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (2013). Kratom.
. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2015). Kratom (Mytragyna Speciosa) Drug Profile.
. Indian Health Services. Warning Signs for Drug Use and Addiction.
. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016). Notes from the Field: Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) Exposures Reported to Poison Control Centers-United States, 2010-2015.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016). DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2007). The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction.
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