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Addicts are turning to kratom to ease painful opiate withdrawal symptoms, but they may be trading one addiction for another

Kratom, which known by its scientific name of Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree found and grown in Southeast Asia. Native farmers and laborers in Thailand, Malaysia, and other areas throughout the region for many years have used the herbal drug as a stimulant to boost their energy and stamina. However, kratom carries a risk of dependence if abused. People who abruptly stop taking kratom after prolonged use can experience uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms known as kratom withdrawal.

The leaves of kratom can be dried and crushed, smoked, or brewed in a tea, or they can be used in capsules, tablets, and liquids, which are considered herbal supplements in the U.S. Kratom also comes in an extract after the leaves have been boiled over an extended period.

Kratom comes in different varieties and goes by many names. Among them are biak, thang, mitragynine extract, cratom, gratom, kakuam, kedemba, ketum, and krathom. Leaves of the tree, which can be eaten raw, are used for their medicinal and psychoactive qualities, according to Mitragyna.com.

Kratom Has No legitimate Medical Use

In 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started to closely monitor kratom after noticing an increase in the number of shipments of dietary supplements and bulk dietary ingredients that are kratom or contain kratom.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), there is no legitimate medical use for kratom in the U.S. In August 2016, the DEA announced it had planned to add the psychoactive compounds in kratom to the list of Schedule I drugs that are banned under the Controlled Substances Act. However, as of October 2016, the agency decided to hold off on banning kratom so it could seek further input from the public and the FDA about its use.

According to the FDA, there have been concerns that kratom can cause toxicity in multiple organ systems and that consumption of it can lead to a number of health problems, including nausea and constipation. The federal agency has also linked kratom consumption to severe withdrawal signs and symptoms.

Kratom Is Sometimes Used as an Opiate Substitute

Kratom is known to induce feelings of euphoria and stimulation and other opiate-like effects, which makes it attractive to users who want to end opiate or opioid addiction. When taken at high doses, users may find it acts more like a sedative than a stimulant. Some people promote the herbal drug as a natural way to manage opiate withdrawal. However, if used for an extended period, kratom can be dangerous and addictive. Some become addicted when kratom is used daily, and they find it hard to quit once use has been established.

According to the DEA, a study of people with Thai kratom addiction found that people who chewed kratom every day for three to 30 years had developed a dependence on the substance. From the DEA’s report: “Long-term use of kratom produced anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth, frequent urination, and constipation.”


Heroin Signs

Regular or heavy kratom users who stop using the drug likely will go through withdrawal, an uncomfortable and taxing process. How long withdrawal lasts will vary. Factors that determine the length and intensity of symptoms include:

  • Age, health, and lifestyle
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Dose of kratom consumed
  • Kratom tolerance
  • Length of kratom use
  • Whether other drugs and alcohol were used along with kratom
  • Achy muscles, bones
  • Changes in skin color (skin may become darker)
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms (runny nose, fever)
  • Goose bumps
  • Jerky limb movements
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sweating
  • Tremors (shakiness)
  • Vomiting
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Delusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings

Heroin Timeline

Withdrawal from Kratom has been compared to opiate withdrawal, so the timeline that applies to people withdrawing from opiates/opioids may apply. Check with a physician for specific questions and concerns. Below is a general outline of what a timeline might look like. Symptoms can start within hours after the last dose taken.

Physical changes, such as a runny nose, fever, excessive sweating, muscle and bone pain, and cramps, among others, are experienced during this period, which is typical with opiate withdrawal.

Physical symptoms continue and may peak in this period. Recovering users may still feel some nausea and may experience tiredness and some psychological side effects, such as changes in mood, depression, and insomnia, among others.

Medical professionals recommend that users in this stage start a recovery program that can help them manage their psychological withdrawal symptoms. Some kratom users may encounter Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). The PAWS condition, which occurs during a prolonged period of withdrawal, can be felt long after drug use is stopped. Depression, changes in appetite, sleep patterns, or feelings of fatigue and high stress and anxiety are among the PAWS symptoms. A recovery plan that promotes wellness on all levels can help recovering users manage this condition.

Heroin Treatment

Users with kratom withdrawal symptoms can visit a medical center to start their detox before the symptoms of withdrawal start or worsen. The length of withdrawal from will vary according to the user. The method of detox chosen is up to the physician who is treating the client. Medical professionals monitor the process while clients get the care they need.

Common Kratom Detox Medications

  • Clonidine: This medication used to treat blood pressure is also prescribed to help alleviate the physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as muscle pain, cramping, and excessive sweating, and psychological ones, including anxiety and agitation or restlessness.
  • Naltrexone: This medication blocks opioids from acting on the brain’s receptors, which strips away the reward of achieving a drug high. It comes in pill form or as an extended-release injection. As with all drugs, naltrexone should be used with care. The initial dosage, as well as any adjustments to it, will be prescribed by the doctor.
  • Ending Kratom Addiction Is Just the First Step

    Detoxification for withdrawal symptoms is an important process, but it’s only one part of it. After recovering users go through the medically supervised detox to end the physical part of active addiction, the next step is to follow a plan of action that helps clients address underlying issues that weren’t identified or faced when the person was in addiction. This plan also teaches clients how to change thought and behavioral patterns that can keep them free of addiction and relapse.

    When the body starts the process of returning to its normal state after the drug has left its system, the mental, emotional, and psychological parts of the puzzle will have to be addressed. This process can take several months or it may take several years.

    A post-detox recovery program that offers clients guidance and support can help those who need ongoing recovery support. Recovering users may also want to look for programs that provide services that teach healthy coping skills and strategies that help recovering users manage the issues that influenced them to use drugs.


Heroin FAQ

Kratom, which is also known as Mitragyna speciosa, its scientific name, is a tropical tree found and grown in Southeast Asia. For many years, it has been used by native farmers and laborers in Thailand, Malaysia, and other areas throughout the region as a stimulant or opiate substitute.

According to the American Kratom Association, kratom is still legal in the U.S., but some states have taken or are taking action to ban the herbal drug. Currently,, kratom is legal in all states, except Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Vermont. In Florida, Sarasota County has banned the drug. The association offers a list of states and what the legal status of kratom is in those areas.

Side effects of kratom use include nausea, itching, sweating, increased urination, constipation, and appetite loss. According to the DEA, users can feel effects occur within five to 10 minutes after kratom has been ingested and can last for two to five hours.

Some people have used kratom to reduce cravings for the drug and manage pains that come when reducing and/or stopping use. Kratom has also been sought out as an alternative to using other opiates and opioids, among them oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin. However, users may be just substituting one drug for another. Drug Treatment Center Finder recommends users wanting to end drug dependence seek out professional help for their situation, which can help them avoid relapse.



At a drug rehab center, you can start your recovery with a healthy support group of trained clinical staff, other like-minded recovering addicts, and addiction counselors that only want you to succeed.


Addiction treatment programs will vary by individual and substance, depending on the severity of their addiction and whether other treatment methods need to be included, such as dual-diagnosis or holistic therapies.


Medications that may be used in kratom detox include clonidine, a blood pressure medication prescribed to help alleviate the physical symptoms of kratom withdrawal, and naltrexone, a medication that blocks opioids from acting on the brain’s receptors, which strips away the reward of achieving a drug high.


Kratom withdrawal can be unpleasant. For that reason, some users may opt to relieve their symptoms with alternative do-it-yourself methods. These usually are carried out at home or outside of a medical center. Drug Treatment Center Finder, however, advises kratom users in withdrawal to seek out medical treatment administered by licensed medical professionals as an alternative option to these methods.



The percentage of people who developed a dependence on kratom after six months of use in one study.


Another study of Kratom users’ habits found 68 percent used the substance to treat pain while 66 percent used to treat emotional and mental conditions.


Forty-nine cases, or 7.5 percent of medical outcomes linked with Kratom exposure were reported to US poison centers between 2010-2015 as major (life-threatening signs or symptoms with some residual disability) during a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.