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What You Should Know About Kratom

Kratom is a relatively new drug of abuse that acts on delta and mu opioid receptors in the body, which are the same ones that heroin and prescription opioid painkillers like OxyContin activate. Kratom is gaining increasing popularity in the United States, particularly in South Florida, which has a high concentration of addiction treatment centers. According to The New York Times, kratom bars are cropping up in that locale, serving kratom tea to people in recovery who may be looking for a “safer” and legal way to achieve an altered state of mind. Unfortunately, the drug may be leading people in recovery back to heroin, which is both cheaper and stronger than kratom.

What Exactly is Kratom?

Kratom is a plant that belongs to the coffee family. It’s native to Southeast Asia, where farmers and other workers have traditionally used it to boost energy and relieve muscle pain associated with intense physical labor. The dried leaves of the kratom plant are either chewed, smoked, brewed into a tea or ground into a powder and put in capsules. Currently legal in the U.S. and sold on the Internet and in head shops across the country, kratom increases alertness and energy in low doses. In high doses, it produces effects similar to opioids, including euphoria and sedation, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has listed Kratom as a drug of concern. However, until it can prove that kratom is unsafe and has a high potential for abuse, the DEA can’t classify it as a controlled substance.

Side Effects of Kratom

Those who abuse kratom may experience itching, constipation, nausea and a loss of appetite. Long-term abuse can lead to unhealthy weight loss and anorexia, chronic constipation, insomnia and a darkening of the skin. Kratom may also cause hallucinations, delusional thinking and psychosis. Because it helps prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms, some people in the U.S. and Asia use kratom to wean themselves from heroin or prescription opioid painkillers. However, kratom itself carries a high risk of addiction and dependence, causing withdrawal symptoms like body aches, hostility and jerky limbs.

Legal Doesn’t Mean Safe

Although kratom is currently legal in most states, the FDA banned the import of the drug in 2014 based on strong suspicions that it’s a harmful substance. But like the DEA, it can’t restrict the use of kratom until it’s officially proven to be unsafe. If you suspect your child is abusing kratom or has developed an addiction to it or dependence on it, a high-quality addiction treatment center can help. If your child is dependent on kratom, the first step of treatment will be medical detox, during which various medications will be used to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms so that your child can focus on recovery. Once the physical dependence has been resolved, a number of holistic, research-based therapies will be used to help your child address the complex issues behind the abuse or addiction. He will learn to identify unhealthy thoughts and behaviors and replace them with healthier ways of thinking and behaving. Therapy will also help him develop skills for coping with triggers like stress and cravings. In most cases, successful recovery from a drug addiction requires professional help due to the changes in brain function and structure that characterize it. Seeking help for a drug problem is often the hardest part of recovery, but doing so will lead your child to a higher level of self-awareness, help him find purpose in life and restore her physical and mental health. To learn more about kratom and how we can help with addiction treatment, give us a call at 877-466-0620. Photo By ThorPorre (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons