Trading Dependencies: There’s Nothing “Mild” About a Kratom Addiction
Mitragyna Speciosa, also known as Kratom, is a large tree in the Rubiaceae family native to Southeast Asia. It is said that Kratom affects the human brain similarly to an opiate, although there is no conclusive clinical data proving how the alkaloids work in relation to the human brain. But that certainly hasn’t stopped people from abusing this forest drug…especially among those who are trying to kick pharmaceutical opiates like OxyContin and Opana.
Users be warned: Kratom is like jumping from the fire into the frying pan. You will survive the flames, but still get burned.
How Does Kratom Make You Feel?
Kratom’s chemical properties cause it to bind to opioid receptors. Because of this, it has been promoted as a potential cure for opiate addicts. The idea is that Kratom, a “mild” drug, can help wean people off these “harder” drugs.
What’s the drawback? Kratom is physically addictive, too. The same properties that make it a potential detox aid also make it a potential addiction.
In small doses, Kratom causes stimulant effects – increased alertness, stamina, and sociability. Larger doses produce sedative effects. Regular use typically results in weight loss, fatigue and other potential health risks.
What is Kratom?
A cousin to coffee, this tropical plant native to Southeast Asia has long been used in that region as a stimulant. Thai men commonly chew the leaves to cope with the demands of intense physical labor.
This drug is available for online purchase in leaf, powder and extract forms. It is most often “brewed” as a tea.
What are the side effects of Kratom?
- Respiratory depression
- Loss of libido
- Skin hyperpigmentation
Years of Kratom use has been shown to produce insomnia, dry mouth, skin darkening, weight loss, anorexia, frequent urination, and constipation.
What does Kratom withdrawal look like?
Around 2012, U.S. emergency room staff began seeing patients who were suffering from Kratom use. Some end up in the ER as a result of overuse. Others, unaware of the addictive nature of the opiate drug, are seen for symptoms they do not even recognize as withdrawal.
Symptoms of withdrawal are similar to those of opiates and can include:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Mood swings
How Addictive is Kratom?
If you or a loved one is struggling with Kratom use, you’re not alone. Several studies have found high rates of dependence among regular users.
In one study, half of those who used Kratom for six months or more experienced severe opiate withdrawal symptoms, and another 45 percent experienced mild withdrawal. Sadly, among these users, over 80 percent tried to stop using and were unable.
Another study showed similar results. More than half the regular users developed severe dependence, while another 45 percent showed moderate dependence.
What’s the Conclusion on Kratom?
The DEA has listed Kratom on its items of concern, but it does not fall under the Controlled Substances Act. While declared illegal in Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand, Kratom is legal in the U.S., with the exception of Indiana. Kratom is a substance that should not be taken lightly. While it may have proven helpful in a handful of cases, for the vast majority, it’s proving to be nothing more than an exchange of one addictive habit for another.
Additional Reading: Opiates, Overdose and Permanent Brain Damage
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