Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are certainly a growing problem in the U.S., but there are also other opioid-based substances like kratom that are showing up on the streets, creating even more dangers. Kratom has been around for many years in Southeast Asian countries, but it’s just recently shown up in the U.S. unregulated, which means some people have no idea about the dangers associated with it.
Kratom is a psychoactive substance that originates from the plant Mitragyna speciosa, which is similar to a coffee tree.
Part of its makeup includes psychoactive alkaloids that can cause effects on an individual similar to that of opioids. Some people take kratom in the form of a pill, while others use the leaves to make a tea. Still, others may chew, eat, or smoke the leaves.
When kratom is taken in low doses, it results in feeling more energized and/or more talkative. In higher doses, kratom works on opioid receptors much like morphine does, causing a feeling of relaxation, pain relief, and euphoria. Though the import of kratom was banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014, it’s still found in a variety of supplements in various smoke shops and online stores in the United States.
Kratom works the same way opioids do – by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors. When this happens, pain signals no longer reach the brain, and a sense of euphoria occurs.
Users of kratom usually use the substance to enhance their mood, relieve pain, or they use it to try to get off opioids or alcohol. However, getting off kratom for some people is not easy, as there have been uncomfortable kratom withdrawal symptoms reported, such as:
Because kratom has not been around in the U.S. very long, it’s tough to know a lot about the withdrawal process timeline. However, because of its similarity to opioids, the kratom withdrawal timeline is much like opioid withdrawal.
Those that desire to stop using kratom wonder how long the withdrawal symptoms may last. This will largely depend on various factors, such as:
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Usually withdrawal symptoms will begin within around 12 hours after the last dose. However, some people feel symptoms sooner. Early withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, nausea, runny nose, and generally flu-like symptoms.
On Days 1-3, the withdrawal symptoms may peak, feeling an increase in anxiety, body aches, headache or migraine, mood swings, and depression. It is during this phase that it’s tempting to reach out and use again to feel better.
After Day 3, the withdrawal symptoms should be decreasing in intensity. The physical symptoms will subside first. The psychological ones, like depression, cravings, or anxiety, can take longer. Lingering symptoms will vary from person to person and depend on things like support or mental health.
Detox helps individuals who have become addicted to a drug safely get off the drug as quickly as possible. Usually, it involves an evaluation to learn about things like how much of the drug has been used and how often. Then, there’s the actual transition to taper off the drug, in which case at times medication may be used to help. In the case of kratom detox, experts aren’t clear yet on what medication is best to help decrease the withdrawal symptoms, as they’re still not clear on exactly how kratom affects the brain.
It’s important that individuals do not quit kratom cold turkey, as there can be serious and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
In fact, In a Thai kratom withdrawal study, there were several cases in which the individual coming off kratom suffered kratom psychosis, having hallucinations and delusions.
Once kratom detox is complete, the next step is to seek addiction treatment in an addiction treatment center. It’s very important to not just stop treatment once the detox stage is finished. Without continued support, the chance of relapse increases greatly.
Detox is wonderful and necessary to flush the body of the toxins associated with the drug, but detox doesn’t necessarily help people contend with the underlying reasons for the drug dependence or addiction. What led the person to abuse kratom? What can help them in the future from relapsing?
If these factors are not dealt with, it’s kind of like putting a bandage over a large, gaping wound. It won’t really do much to heal the wound.
With addiction recovery in a treatment center, an individual will be surrounded by substance abuse professionals that can provide the necessary support, education, and skills for moving forward without using drugs.
There are either inpatient or outpatient rehabs that one can attend, depending on the severity of the addiction. Outpatient works well for those who haven’t been using kratom very long and don’t consider themselves heavy users.
Inpatient rehabs work well for heavy users that have become quite dependent on the drug and requires the person to live at the facility while they’re attending treatment. It’s more intensive, helping them laser focus on their recovery.
How long does treatment last? That will depend on each person’s needs and patterns, but normally treatment lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 days. However, some opt to stay six months to a year to work on their recovery.
A treatment plan will be created by a professional, usually consisting of elements like:
Here at Family Recovery Specialists, we always provide an individualized, custom-designed treatment plan that offers the best chance at recovery. We use evidence-based therapies to treat kratom, as well as other opioid addiction.
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24698080
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3670991/
Retrieved from https://delphihealthgroup.com/kratom/detox-withdrawal/