Kratom is a unique psychoactive substance. It comes from a plant that’s native to Southeast Asia, and it contains psychotropic chemicals. It has a widely varying effect that makes it challenging to categorize. It can cause both sedating and stimulating effects, depending on the dose that’s taken.

Kratom contains two active chemicals: mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine. These chemicals interact with opioid receptors in the brain to cause sedation, euphoria, and pain relief. Mitragynine can also interact with other receptors in the brain to cause stimulating effects. Users report experiencing these effects when the substance is taken in small doses. When kratom is taken in high doses, it acts more like an opioid.

It’s currently legal in the United States, and it can be sold on the internet as long as it’s not labeled as a product for human consumption. This is often referred to as the gray market, which is when a product is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is sold as other products, but buyers and sellers both understand that it’s used as a drug. However, the drug can cause some significant side effects. The drug hasn’t been studied extensively, but some users report dependence and addiction.

PWhat Are the Signs of Kratom Addiction?

Addiction is defined as a severe substance use disorder that is identified by a pattern of compulsive use. Compulsive use could mean using a substance despite harmful consequences. If you’ve used kratom to the point where you feel like you need it, even if it’s disrupting your life, you may be addicted.

Addiction often comes after a period of abuse, when you’re using the drug excessively. Compulsive drug use may cause frequent intoxication, which can cause acute effects like boosted mood, feelings of empowerment, euphoria, sedation, itchiness, and loss of motor control. Addiction can cause other situational and behavioral signs like:

  • Needing the drug to feel normal
  • Trying and failing to cutback
  • Flu-like withdrawal
  • Isolation
  • Using the drug alone
  • Using the drug at odd times
  • Hiding kratom
  • Lying about drug use
  • Using the drug despite consequences
  • Struggling at work or school

What’s Involved in Kratom Addiction Treatment?

Kratom addiction, like any substance use disorder, can be treated with a personalized recovery program that addresses your individual needs. Effective addiction treatment involves a multidisciplinary approach where medical, psychological, and social needs are addressed. When you enter an addiction treatment program, you’ll go through a clinical and medical assessment to determine the appropriate level of care for you.

How Dangerous Is Kratom?

Part of the danger of kratom is its unpredictability. It hasn’t been adequately studied, and it’s not regulated by the FDA. In 2017, 44 deaths involved kratom. Many of these deaths involved other substances as well. Since it acts like an opioid, it may be dangerous to mix with other opioids, alcohol, or prescription depressants. Some of the fatal overdose cases also involved stimulants like cocaine.

Other cases involved products that were sold as kratom, but they also contained other harmful substances. A few deadly overdose cases involved pure kratom by itself. Because kratom binds to opioid receptors, overdose symptoms may cause unconsciousness, slowed breathing, and a slowed heart rate. Oxygen deprivation may prove fatal in overdose cases. A recent study found that kratom overdose could be reversed, by naloxone, an opioid receptor antagonist that’s used to treat opioid overdose.

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