Kratom, an herbal supplement from a tree, can be used for pain, opioid withdrawal and more. However, stopping its use can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Kratom is an herbal supplement from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, which has not been evaluated as safe or effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nevertheless, kratom use has increased; some use it to help with opioid withdrawal and cravings, treat pain and manage mental health problems. However, there is increasing concern that kratom can be addictive, and some may experience withdrawal when trying to stop.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom refers to herbal supplements derived from Mitragyna speciosa, a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, and has been used in traditional medicine in the area for hundreds of years. Leaves from this plant are sometimes chewed and crushed, then smoked, brewed as a tea or encapsulated. Ingesting leaves of this plant results in stimulant effects at low dosesand sedation at high doses.
While kratom is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as safe or effective, some report using kratom to help with opioid withdrawal and cravings, treating pain and managing mental health problems.
Why Does Kratom Cause Withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms when stopping kratom may occur because your body becomes used to the effects of the chemical compounds in kratom. The most well studied is called mitragynine and is found in kratom leaves. Mitragynine breaks down into another well-studied compound called 7-hydroxymitragynine. Each of these compounds activates mu-opioid receptors in the brain similarly to opioids, though with less intensity. Some studiessuggest that people who regularly take kratom experience mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms when they stop and the body must adjust to the substance’s absence.
Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms
Some regularly reported kratom withdrawal symptoms include:
- Changes in mood
- Feeling tense
- Muscle and joint pain
- Watery eyes and nose
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble concentrating
Kratom Withdrawal Timeline
It is unclear exactly how long withdrawal symptoms from kratom can last. If you use kratom at higher doses or multiple times throughout the day, you will be more likely to experience withdrawal than someone using it at a lower dose. In one survey, participants reported withdrawal symptoms 12 to 48 hours after their last dose of kratom. Another study found it can take 3 to 10 days for kratom withdrawal symptoms to subside.
What Helps With Kratom Withdrawal?
While not everyone who uses kratom can expect to go through withdrawal, those who do can experience mild to moderate symptoms. These symptoms are not typically life-threatening but can be very uncomfortable and jeopardize your sobriety. In addition, if you use kratom multiple times throughout the day or at higher doses, you could be at higher risk for kratom withdrawal.
Symptoms can be similar to opioid withdrawal, and as a result, some suggest treating both similarly. While there is no consensus on treating kratom withdrawal specifically, there is a rationale for using buprenorphine in some cases. Buprenorphine is a partial mu-opioid agonist, activating the same receptors as kratom but at a reduced level. This can help to decrease cravings until you can safely wean off buprenorphine without withdrawal. Others have had success treating kratom withdrawal using clonidine.
Detox, the first few days after stopping kratom, rids the substance from your body and can often be uncomfortable. During this time, withdrawal symptoms can start to appear, and cravings for the drug can be so intense that you may be tempted to resort to taking kratom again. Some people try to detox from kratom at home but can have less success in kicking the habit without extensive support.
Most have better success in a facility that offers medical detox where you would have around-the-clock medical supervision to support you during this time. These medical professionals monitor withdrawal symptoms and can help treat them if they arise. Once this first step is complete, many people transition to inpatient rehab, where they can continue their path to recovery.
Find a Kratom Detox Center in New Jersey
If you or a loved one are struggling with kratom addiction, The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper can help. Stopping kratom alone can be daunting and uncomfortable, but our trained medical professionals can provide continuous monitoring and support on your journey to sobriety.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Kratom.” 2022. Accessed July 9, 2022.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drug Fact Sheet: Kratom.” April 2020. Accessed July 9, 2022.
Bin Abdullah, MFIL. “Kratom Dependence and Treatment Options:[…]ew of the Literature.” Current Drug Targets, July 2020. Accessed July 9, 2022.
Veltri, C. and Grundmann, O. “Current perspectives on the impact of Kratom use.” DovePress. June 7, 2019. Accessed July 9, 2022.
Singh, D, et al. “Severity of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa K[…] Withdrawal Symptoms.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, June 18, 2018. Accessed July 9, 2022.
Broyan, V., et al. “Long-term buprenorphine treatment for kr[…]order: A case series.” Substance Abuse, February 3, 2022. Accessed July 9, 2022.
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