Should I use Kratom for opiate withdrawal? If you’re not quite sure what kratom is, this might seem like a rather strange question. However, for those who understand the plant’s effects, it’s a question that definitely merits an answer. Read on to find out what kratom is and if you should use it for opiate withdrawal symptoms.
What is Kratom, Anyway?
In some circles, Kratom is becoming well-known as a potential treatment for opioid dependence. But what is kratom exactly, and why are so many opioid users suddenly curious about it? Before we address these issues, we’ll need to understand just what Kratom is.
Kratom is a tropical plant from Southeast Asia that acts as a stimulant in low doses and as a sedative in higher doses. People in some cultures have used the plant for centuries and both a stimulant and a natural pain reliever. Typically, they achieve these effects by chewing, smoking, or brewing Kratom leaves into a tea.
At the molecular level, Kratom is very different than the opioid drugs whose effects it seems to mimic. However, it acts on the same receptors as these pain relieving drugs. Not surprisingly, Kratom induces certain opioid-like effects. For some users, this can reduce the powerful cravings and symptoms of withdrawal associated with the chronic use of heroin and other opioid drugs.
The increased use and misuse of prescription opioids in the United States creates a need for better treatment options for opioid addiction and withdrawal. Kratom is a natural alternative that may be useful in an addiction treatment setting. However, a number of studies have drawn its safety and effectiveness into question.
Still, the severity of the opioid epidemic insists that we delve into the question a bit further. The stakes are simply too high to do otherwise.
Can Kratom Assist in Drug Addiction Treatment?
There is anecdotal evidence that kratom can help in the treatment of opioid addiction by relieving withdrawal symptoms. Kratom’s effects include mild euphoria, sedation, reduced anxiety, and pain relief. These effects make it a potentially helpful tool for opioid dependence. Because kratom works on the same brain receptors as opioids, it can alleviate withdrawal symptoms that result from discontinuation.
However, kratom activates a different class of opioid receptors than heroin or prescription painkillers. Therefore, it does not induce the same high as many of these other drugs. Although there is significant anecdotal evidence that suggests kratom may be an effective tool in treating opioid use disorders, the research on this topic is scarce.
Are There Risks?
Despite the many proponents for kratom’s ability to help with opioid withdrawal, there is still some concern regarding its own addictive properties. While some could argue that this is harm reduction par excellence, experts now believe that kratom does have the potential for abuse and addiction following a prolonged period of use. What’s more, because kratom is not regulated by the government or administered by medical professionals, people who choose to use kratom for this purpose are left to their own devices in determining how much and how long to use it.
Without regulation, the risks of kratom use may also include the consumption of unintended adulterants. Furthermore, there appear to be some serious side effects associated with kratom use, including paranoia, hallucinations, nausea and vomiting, muscle pain, and in some cases, liver damage.
There is also the risk of legal repercussions of importing or buying kratom. While it’s legal on a federal level and throughout most of the U.S., it is currently illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Vermont, and Wisconsin. In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced it was planning on banning kratom but later withdrew this action, saying that more research and time to consider public comments was needed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved kratom for any legitimate medical use and has warned people to avoid its use.
Is Kratom Overdose Possible?
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kratom was found to be a cause of death in 91 overdoses from July of 2016 to December of 2017. In seven of those deaths, kratom was the only substance identified in a toxicology test. However, the CDC stated that they couldn’t emphatically rule out the presence of other substances.
Should I Use Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal?
At first glance, kratom seems like it could be a viable way to reduce the agony of opioid addiction and withdrawal. However, upon further inspection, it begins to shine more like fool’s gold than the real thing.
Obviously, no two opioid users are alike. This means that kratom might very well work for one person and be an abysmal failure for another. One thing seems relatively certain, however. People do not develop opioid use disorders in a vacuum. They develop the disease of addiction due to a complex and hard-to-identify set of biological, familial, and environmental factors.
These facts are commonly accepted in the addiction treatment community. In fact, most professionals think that any form of addiction treatment that does not address the underlying issues that lead to drug use are doomed to failure. Therefore, it seems reasonable to think of kratom as a ‘step-down’ form of detox at best.
Opioid Addiction Treatment at Harmony Recovery
As the U.S. confronts a devastating opioid epidemic, Harmony Recovery Centers stays current on all of the possibilities that may make opioid addiction treatment a more successful and comfortable experience. Although anecdotal evidence shows some promise for kratom’s ability to be beneficial in opioid addiction treatment, there is little scientific evidence to support up these claims. Therefore, we do not suggest using kratom for this purpose. Instead, we encourage individuals to undergo long-term, intensive treatment, and different forms of medication-assisted treatment, such as Suboxone and naltrexone therapy.
We offer comprehensive programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats that consist of evidence-based services that are essential for the process of recovery. These services include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual and family counseling
- Peer group support
- Health and wellness education
- Substance abuse education
- Treatment for co-occurring conditions
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Art and music therapy
- Adventure therapy
- Aftercare planning
We urge you to contact us today if you or someone you love is battling an addiction to opioids! We ensure that our clients receive all the tools and support they need to reclaim their lives once and for all, free from the use of drugs and alcohol!