Quitting Kratom: What You Should Know

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How to Stop Using Kratom

Kratom is an indigenous plant in parts of Southeast Asia, where it has been used as a remedy for pain and low energy.1 Kratom has a range of effects that are similar to both opiates and stimulants. In recent years, it has become more widely used and abused in Europe and the United States.1

People who struggle with kratom dependence or addiction have a number of options available to help them quit using.


Addiction Treatment Center and Recovery Program Options

Although some people are able to quit taking kratom on their own, treatment centers and recovery programs provide several benefits to facilitate the process.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Medical and psychiatric care. Medical supervision is important in the acute stages of kratom withdrawal. Professionals can help ease the discomfort that a person might feel during this stage. A person may also have psychiatric symptoms that can trigger a relapse if left untreated. In addition, treatment programs can provide referrals to therapists, 12-step programs, or sober living homes that may provide aftercare or ongoing care.
  • Support from peers and professionals. Peer support can help people remain focused on sobriety. Treatment centers and aftercare programs also provide a place where a person can be held accountable throughout their recovery.
  • Receiving therapy. Underlying experiences, thoughts, feelings, and/or mental health issues can drive substance abuse. Having a team of professionals who are trained to identify and treat these issues can help someone maintain long-term sobriety. Therapy can also teach recovering users new ways of coping with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Kratom addiction treatment centers and recovery programs include:

  • Detox. Medically managed kratom withdrawal in a detox center ensures that a person detoxes from kratom in a safe and comfortable environment. Facilities that specialize in detoxification will typically not emphasize substance abuse therapy. Instead, they will focus on treating medical and psychiatric symptoms.2 Many people transition into ongoing, longer-term treatment at the completion of detox.
  • Inpatient. Inpatient kratom recovery centers are residential programs that provide individual, family, couples, group, nutritional, recreational, and medication management services. These facilities vary in price, services, and overall approach. Treatment length often begins at 28 days or one month, but it can continue for several months depending on the severity of dependence and insurance coverage.
  • Outpatient. Outpatient kratom recovery programs may vary in terms of setting and intensity. Examples of structured outpatient treatment approaches include partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP). These programs often emphasize group therapy sessions, but they also provide family and individual therapy as needed.
  • Group counseling. Group counseling focuses on a core issue and provides a structured way to address that issue with the support of peers and a therapist. Groups are available for mental and physical ailments, grief and loss, domestic violence, and other factors that may be driving substance abuse.
  • Individual counseling. Individual therapy can help a person heal any past traumas or dysfunctional patterns that are contributing to kratom abuse. Many therapists in the mental health field specialize in substance abuse and related issues.
  • 12-step programs. Twelve-step programs have helped millions of people stay sober. These groups provide education, support, and accountability for free. New members may seek out sponsors, who are mentors that can be contacted at any time for assistance.

Aftercare

It is usually not enough to simply stop taking a substance. Making a full recovery may take months to years depending on the severity of addiction. Active participation in a rich variety of aftercare programs can greatly improve a person’s chance of maintaining sobriety.

The level and length of care a person will need will vary. Speak with a professional so you can make a more informed decision about what your next steps after treatment should be.

Common forms of aftercare include:

  • Individual or group counseling.
  • 12-step programs.
  • Sober living.
  • Mobile-phone-based support.
  • Formal outpatient treatment programs.


Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms and Side Effects

A person may experience mild to severe physiological and psychological symptoms if they suddenly quit kratom. However, none of the symptoms reported are life-threatening.1

Physiological Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Problems with sleep
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Hiccups
  • Fever
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Body aches and pains
  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms 1

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Restlessness
  • Tension
  • Nervousness

The severity of kratom withdrawal symptoms and the length of time a person will experience those symptoms will depend upon several factors, including:

  • The length of time a person has been using kratom.
  • The amount of kratom a person used.
  • Whether the person has any medical, psychiatric, or additional substance abuse issues.

Timeline

Kratom users report mild to severe symptoms that last 3 days for moderate or shorter-term users and longer than 3 days for those who were using more than 3 times daily and for longer than 3 years.1


Tips for Quitting

Attempting to quit kratom on your own can be difficult. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you work toward sobriety.

  • Seek the help of a professional. Try to find a program with experience treating addiction to kratom or other opiates. Any treatment is better than none at all.
  • Actively participate in your program. Be willing to open up and figure out what’s driving the need to abuse kratom. Therapy only works if a person makes the effort.
  • Seek the support of loved ones. Knowing that at least one family member or friend loves and supports you can boost your motivation.
  • Evaluate your current life. Ask yourself if the people and activities in your life are helping you get well or holding you back.
  • Set goals. Think about goals and aspirations that you may have had before using kratom. Choose some measurable goals that you can work toward in the next 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years. Refer back to this list when you are feeling triggered to use.


How to Help an Addict Quit

Wife confronting husband about kratom abuse

If someone you love is abusing or addicted to kratom, here are some helpful tips on how to talk to them, and what to avoid.

Ways to approach your loved one include:

  • Be prepared. Approach your loved one with specific examples of why you are concerned.
  • Use “I feel” statements. When you bring your concerns to your loved one, prepare your statements so that you avoid accusations. Avoid “you” statements such as, “You need to stop using drugs.”
  • Make a list of providers and treatment centers. Having resources ready will allow you to offer various options. This strategy may help your loved one feel less cornered and more open to the possibilities.
  • Reassure your loved one. Remind your loved one that you are concerned about their well-being. Also, tell them that you are willing to be there for them throughout their recovery.

Things to avoid when approaching a loved one:

  • Bad timing. Do not approach your loved one when they are intoxicated. You want them to remember the conversation and to be as engaged as possible.
  • Blaming, lecturing, and accusing. People who are addicted to substances tend to be defensive when discussing their use. Blaming, lecturing, and accusing will make them feel defensive. If you will have a hard time with this one, you can contact a therapist or professional interventionist to mediate the conversation for you.
  • Judging. Don’t remind your loved one of all the things they have done or opportunities they have missed. Communicate love and compassion.
  • Enabling. Do not enable future kratom use. Enabling could be paying their bills, not making them pay rent, giving them money, or making excuses for their actions.
  • Pushing. Know when to leave the topic alone. No matter how much you love someone or want them to seek help, if they are not ready to quit kratom, they either will not seek treatment or will sabotage their recovery at some point. It may be difficult to tell what stage of readiness your loved one is in. However, a substance abuse professional will be able to assess this for you and guide you to next steps.


Can I Quit Cold Turkey? Is It Dangerous?

Kratom does not appear to have any life-threatening side effects associated with its use or its withdrawal syndrome.

However, because so little is known about the drug, it may be best to seek the guidance of a professional. Medically supervised detox ensures your physical and psychological safety and may help improve the chances of remaining sober.


Sources

  1. Singh, D., Muller, C. P., & Vicknasingam, B. K. (2014). Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) dependence, withdrawal symptoms and craving in regular users. Drug and alcohol dependence, 139, 132–137.
  2. Knowledge Application Program. (2013). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment: A Treatment Improvement Protocol TIP. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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Last updated on December 7, 2018
2018-12-07T20:56:02+00:00