When it comes to drug addiction, we usually only think of substances like meth, heroin or cocaine – all of which are illegal wherever you go in the world. However, there are legal substances that are addictive alongside things like cigarettes and alcohol. In some cases, legal substances can be just as addictive and dangerous as highly illegal ones.

Kratom is a legal supplement that’s rising in popularity, despite the potential risks of it. If you are considering using the drug or are worried about kratom addiction and wondering “is kratom addictive?”, it is important to know about the risks, the potential benefits and the addiction treatment available.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a tree in the coffee family that is found in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar. The substance itself is popularly taken in the form of a tea, powder or tablet. You can also chew dried kratom leaves to feel the effects.

In Southeast Asia kratom has been used for many centuries to treat pain and as a stimulant. It was particularly used by farmers and manual labourers to combat fatigue, ease pain and work harder and longer. Its popularity has remained in these countries due to its legality and that it does not have the same stigma as other drugs.

It became popular in the West in the 1900s as an alternative to opioid painkillers. Eventually, kratom became illegal in the UK in 2016 but remains legal in many states in the US – where kratom use is more prevalent.

Kratom benefits that change depending on the dose you take. At low doses, kratom is a stimulant and at higher doses a painkiller. It is used by opioid addicts to try and curb their drug use and is also used by sufferers of anxiety and depression.

The potential benefits of kratom are the feelings of calmness, pain relief and increased motivation and energy that a user gets.

Is Kratom Addictive?

Because kratom is not an opioid, some people think it does not carry the same addiction risk. The fact is that kratom is a substance that creates changes in the brain and body – bringing feelings of euphoria and pain relief that psychologically a user may be craving.

As you need to feel the effects more often, kratom dependence is likely to follow. As your dependence on kratom grows, so does your tolerance to it – meaning you have to take more to feel the same effects as before. With constant kratom abuse, soon your body will be physically addicted as well and you’ll find yourself caught in the spiral of kratom addiction.

When it reaches that point then it will be noticeable. Kratom addiction is easy to diagnose with many symptoms being prevalent.

If you start to have withdrawal symptoms when you stop using, this is a clear sign of addiction. You may find yourself unable to stop, no matter how hard you try and begin withdrawing from friends and social occasions to acquire kratom and take it. Feelings of anxiety and depression that you have been trying to avoid could worsen due to your kratom abuse.

Some of this may sound familiar. If that is the case you may want to consider professional help and look at going into a drug rehab.

Kratom Use and Abuse

With its packaging as tea and dietary supplement, there is a potential for kratom to be severely abused and lead to kratom addiction. Unlike heroin, which has a negative connotation, kratom appears much more palatable and friendly to someone seeking the potential benefits of the drug.

The fact that kratom is tipped to help people suffering from opioid withdrawal helps further the idea that the substance is not as dangerous as it can be. These benefits have been documented, but not as widely explored to make any findings definitive.

Misuse of a drug can be easy to do, and through abuse of a substance comes short and long-term health issues:

Short-term use side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Paranoia
  • High blood pressure

Long-term use side effects:

  • Liver damage
  • Seizures
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • anxiety

Kratom is a new drug, relatively speaking, and not widely known about or used. The lack of research into it means that kratom safety and responsible use are not discussed as much as other drugs. As it seems to have some benefits in addiction and mental health treatment, there may be a time when it is more accepted in the pharmacological circle. With more research, it may come that kratom can be safely administered by medical professionals.

Until then, the only path to responsible use is yourself. Avoiding daily use is key, so perhaps using it once or twice a week is a viable way to safely use kratom without kratom addiction developing.

Kratom Withdrawal Symptoms

As you become psychologically and physically addicted to a substance, withdrawing from it will cause withdrawal symptoms. Kratom withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscles aches
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings
  • Sweating
  • anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swing
  • Runny nose

Kratom and Opioid Addiction

As stated above, kratom and opioids are closely linked when discussing the potential benefits and drawbacks of the substance.

Opioids are drugs that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. Doing this blocks pain messages to the brain, causing relief and a sense of euphoria – flooding the brain with dopamine and activating the pleasure centres.

Kratom is not an opioid and does not contain any opiates but is classified that way. That is because the two main compounds in kratom, mitragynine and 7-a-hydroxy mitragynine, interact with opioid receptors as well. Because of this, kratom can have very similar effects on you as an opioid does.

Despite this similarity to opioids, the major argument for kratom usage is its reported help with opioid withdrawal. As kratom can reduce anxiety, make you feel energetic and relieve pain – it can help alleviate severe opioid withdrawal symptoms during heroin detox.

What makes it similar to opioids makes it a risky substance to use. People that use it may begin to abuse it and as stated above you can become physically dependent. There is still not a whole lot known about kratom and there have not been any more studies yet about how it interacts with other substances. This could make it more dangerous still.

Kratom Addiction Treatment

Kratom addiction may require you to go to rehab. At a private drug and alcohol rehab you can gain access to a comprehensive treatment programme that gives you the best chance of achieving long-term recovery.

At rehab, you will undergo a journey through detox and many group and individual therapy sessions to get to the bottom of your addiction. Kratom may be hyped up as an alternative choice for pain relief, but it has been made illegal for a reason. Without more information and more studies, the benefits of the drug can’t be safely put to use and kratom addiction may occur.

If you are worried about your kratom use or have any other addiction concerns, contact Addiction Advocates today. Call us today at 0800 012 6088 and we can start the admissions process and get you the help you need.