Kratom is a supplement that is widely believed to be effective at fighting depression and relieving pain. However, research studies and initial reports now show that it could be more dangerous than most people realize.
However, since this substance is unregulated, it can be bought from online retailers and in local stores. This has been creating issues within the medical community because the FDA - the Food and Drug Administration - also classified and schedule it as a substance of abuse.
Unfortunately, there was opposition from legislators and lobbyist groups. For this reason, the FDA was not able to classify the drug. Today, proponents of the drug claim that it is safer than most opioids and that it is effective as a natural and holistic substance that can enhance workout routines.
The truth of the matter, on the other hand, is that this drug comes with some serious safety and health concerns. It can, for instance, lead to a substance use disorder, cause you to suffer a drug overdose, as well as create fatal outcomes.
Kratom is a natural plant that mostly grows in Southeast Asia. It is then harvested before being sold as a powder. The drug is available in different strains (such as there are for cannabis) of varying colors, such as green, red, and yellow. It also has psychoactive properties. Typically, users fill the powder into small capsules before ingest them. Alternatively, they may blend it into a drink that they then ingest orally.
The active compound in this drug is Mitragynine and it has properties that are similar to those of stimulant substances and opioids. For this reason, using the substance can cause you to experience sedation and/or an increase in energy.
Kratom works on the opioid receptor system located in the CNS - the central nervous system - and the brain. As a result, it can lead to the development of dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms of withdrawal are similar to those that you would experience if you were addicted to opioids. However, they tend to be much milder.
The important thing to keep in mind is that this drug is a mind-altering substance. It is derived from the kratom tropical tree - particularly its leaves. These leaves come with psychotropic effects that can cause you to experience a high when you ingest them.
The primary compounds in the drug include 7-hydroxymitragynine and natural mitragynine. When you take kratom in any form, these compounds will interact with the opioid receptors located in the brain as well as alter how the brain works. As a result, they can cause you to experience a reduction in any pain sensations as well as produce sedative effects that you might find to be pleasurable.
In the same way, these compounds can act on other parts of the brain but at low doses. When this happens, they will create effects that are similar to what you would experience if you were abusing classified stimulant drugs.
In the United States, this psychotropic substance is still legal. However, it has been banned in severe municipalities, states, and jurisdictions. Further, the FDA has not approved it for medical uses. Instead, it has issued alerts to warn people from using the drug.
The important thing to keep in mind is that neither the FDA nor the DEA - the Drug Enforcement Agency - have made official determines on the substance. Since it is unregulated, it means that kratom is still available for purchase in several parts of the country.
The drug is mostly available in gum format, as an extract, as well as in powder packets. However, the packets have been labeled to warn people that the powder is not fit for human use or consumption. Even so, people tend to disregard these warnings and end up incorporating the powder into food or brewing the leaves.
The NSDUH - the National Survey of Drug Use and Health - for 2019 reported that more than 800,000 Americans above the age of 12 years had used the drug in the month prior to the survey.
Most of these people use the drug for detoxification at home after struggling with an opioid use disorder. Others will use it because of its purported pain relief and management benefits.
However, you need to realize that there is very little approved research showing that kratom is safe for human consumption for these purposes. What is known is that the substance can lead to the development of a substance use disorder as well as lead to other risks to human health and wellness.
The drug is also known by a number of other names, including but not limited to Thom, Ketum, Kakuam, Ithang, Herbal Speedball, and Biak. It was mostly used in Southeast Asia for the treatment of mild discomfort and the symptoms of diarrhea, fatigue, cough, and pain.
If you start using it, you may do so because of the stimulating and pleasant effects that it is known to produce. The drug can produce highs that are similar to what you would experience if you were abusing stimulant substances or opioids.
In large amounts, the substance can produce effects that are similar to what you would experience after taking opioids. These effects include but are not limited to decreased pain sensations, sedation, and feelings of pleasure. The drug can also cause you to be more sociable than normal, experience an increase in energy levels, as well as become more alert than you were before taking it.
The proponents of the drug believe that it is an effective way to achieve pain relief, enhanced mood, increased energy, and eased opioid withdrawal discomfort. However, medical and addiction treatment professionals all warn that the drug can be both ineffective and unsafe.
Although kratom has not been classified by the DEA or the FDA, the medical community now believes that it produces effects that are similar to those arising from stimulant drugs and opioid substances. For this reason, it has the potential of leading to substance abuse and addiction.
The drug works on the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. This is why it can cause you to develop a substance use disorder or an addiction. Further, using kratom in the long can cause you to start displaying the typical symptoms and signs of an addiction. These symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Building up tolerance to the drug, such that you need to take it in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience the effects that your brain has come to associate with it
- Continuing to take the substance even in situations where it has started causing issues and problems for you at home, work, school, and in your professional and personal lives
Due to these symptoms, and the other negative effects and consequences that are linked to the drug, the FDA has warned against its use and abuse. The drug works by targeting the opioid receptors located in the brain - which is why it leads to the development of tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
Since there are few regulations in place with regards to the manufacture, abuse, and use of kratom, the drug can prove to be quite dangerous. This lack of regulation may put you in harm's way because you would not be able to determine the quality of the batch of this drug that you are taking.
In 2018, for instance, the FDA was compelled to recall on certain packaged products that contained the substance. This was after it was discovered that these products had the Salmonella bacteria that is known to cause illness in human beings.
In the same way, you can never tell the potency of the batch of kratom that you have bought. This will largely depend on the time of year it was harvested as where the leaves were harvested from. For this reason, you would be forced to buy the drug without knowing just how potent it can turn out to be.
The other dangers and negative side effects and consequences that are linked to the substance include but are not limited to:
According to the DEA, taking this drug could lead to the development of psychotic episodes that could be marked by confusion, delusional thinking and behavior, and hallucinations.
The same report showed that kratom can potentially stay in your body for around 5 hours. While under its influence, you may get yourself and others in trouble. For instance, you might end up harming yourself and others - leading to injuries, arrests, and other issues.
The drug is particularly harmful if you already have a diagnosed or an undiagnosed mental health disorder or other psychological concerns. In this situation, the chemical signals in your brain would already be heightened and amended. For this reason, you may already be struggling with aggression and hallucinations - among the other typical symptoms of a mental illness.
If you add the drug into this mix, you may end up suffering other devastating effects. This is because the substance might potentially augment the symptoms that are typical to your mental health disorder.
On the other hand, if you take medications to handle a mental health condition and you use kratom, it could interfere with your treatment and recovery plan. It could also block the efficacy of your medications, which could worsen your mental health.
If you overdose on kratom, it is highly likely that you will experience symptoms and display signs that are similar to those that arise during an opioid overdose situation. Naloxone may even be effective at reversing this type of drug overdose.
The important thing to keep in mind is that overdosing on this drug could turn out to be fatal. From 2016 to 2017, for instance, a total of 152 overdoses were reported in the United involving this substance. Of this number, 59 percent ended up in fatal outcomes.
While overdosing on the drug might produce symptoms that are similar to those produced by an opioid drug overdose, these symptoms might not be quite as obvious. This is because kratom produces both sedative and stimulant effects. As a result, it is possible that you will display symptoms that are varied and difficult to stop - another danger of the drug. These symptoms may include:
It is essential that you call your local poisons control center or 911 immediately you experience any of these symptoms or if you witness someone struggling with them - especially if you suspect the ingestion of kratom
Some addiction treatment centers - including but inpatient and outpatient facilities - offer recovery services from kratom abuse and addiction. First, you will go through a medically managed detox process to deal with the following withdrawal symptoms that will arise when you stop abusing this drug:
The center might also provide you behavioral therapy and counseling options as well as support group participation to help you understand why you have been abusing kratom as well as learn how to stop doing so - with the goal of achieving long term recovery, wellness, and abstinence from the drug.