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Kratom Effects, Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a tropical tree in the same family as the coffee tree, and its botanical name is Mitraguna speriosa. This drug is a newcomer to the U.S. but has been used for centuries in its native region, Southeast Asia. It is also related to Psychotria Viridis, the Amazonian shrub used as a source of dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in ayahuasca preparations. It has a stimulant effect in low doses and a sedative effect in higher doses. In its native region, people check the fresh leaves.

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Is Kratom Safe?

In the U.S., individuals who take kratom typically buy it in crushed or powder form for oral consumption. Because of its unpleasant taste, the drug is either taken in capsules or mixed with liquids to mask the flavor. It can also be brewed into a tea or purchased in individual “shots”  like the Five Hour Energy stimulant drink. Some kava bars and tobacco shops carry it in multiple forms.

There is anecdotal evidence that kratom can relieve symptoms of restless leg syndrome, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Additionally, people trying to reduce cravings for opiates or reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms also use kratom. While it is available over the counter from some online and brick-and-mortar sources, it is not necessarily a benign substance.

This substance can also vary in strength from batch to batch; it can be challenging to gauge the potency, allowing people to get a more potent dose than anticipated. The continuous use of kratom can cause dependence that often leads to abuse and addiction. Kratom addiction is possible because of the way that it binds to the brain’s opioid receptors.

A Dangerous Option to Treat Opioid Withdrawal

Currently, there is interest in the opiate treatment community to develop medication-assisted treatment options. The theory is that if people struggling with addiction can take medication to wean themselves off opioids, treatment efforts will be more successful. This approach depends on finding drugs that are safe, effective, and non-addictive to users.

Some propose kratom as an all-natural supplement that can help people addicted to opiates break free of the drug. They believe the kratom effects are less potent than other opioids, so users could gradually wean themselves from heroin or opioid painkillers. Some anecdotal reports from opioid users claim that kratom is helpful to use in this way, but controlled scientific studies do not exist to support these claims.

Unfortunately, this approach depends on replacing one form of opioids with another. Kratom appears to be addictive in its own right, meaning that people using it to overcome opioid withdrawal may experience addiction. There have been numerous reports of people developing a dependency on the drug, suggesting that it may be an ineffective and even harmful way to treat opioid dependence.

Kratom Side Effects

It causes a feeling of euphoria. In small doses, people report that it boosts concentration. In more significant amounts, it creates a sense of relaxation.
Some individuals will experience acute side effects that can mimic those felt with opioid drugs, including:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Increased urination
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Withdrawal Symptoms

Since 2012, hospital emergency rooms have reported an increase in patients suffering from kratom abuse, resulting from overusing the drug, while others were complaining of withdrawal symptoms.

Kratom Withdrawal

The withdrawal symptoms for kratom can be similar to those felt with opiate drugs and can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Cravings
  • Muscle spasms and pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood swings and irritability

In some cases, those suffering from Kratom withdrawal symptoms are not aware that they are experiencing withdrawal. As a result, the individual is not aware of kratom’s physically addictive properties.

Signs of Kratom Abuse and Addiction

  • Regular abuse of kratom can produce fatigue and weight loss since it acts as a stimulant in small doses.
  • Under the influence of small quantities, people may be more talkative, have higher energy levels, or seem irritable or edgy.
  • Those who are taking more massive doses may experience a lack of sensitivity to physical or emotional pain. They may also experience sweating, itching, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Kratom overdose may display symptoms that include paranoia, delusions, shakiness, and aggression.
  • Individuals who are unable to sleep for many days at a time may also experience delusions.
  • People who become physically dependent will experience cravings for kratom when they have not had a recent dose. They may also feel nausea, nervousness, and other withdrawal symptoms if they have not taken kratom recently.

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How to Get Off Kratom?

A Perfect Place for Restoration and Rebuilding

While alcohol detox ends the body’s dependence on alcohol in a matter of days, the long-term physical and mental consequences of alcohol abuse remain. After Waismann Method’s patients have successfully detoxed from alcohol, they transition to the next treatment phase, Domus Retreat, our inclusive recovery center designed to feel like a luxury resort. Nestled in a secluded area in Anaheim Hills, Southern California, Domus Retreat offers private suites, chef-cooked meals, housekeeping services, and professional massages. However, the Domus Retreat is much more than a beautiful place to escape daily life’s stress.

Patients undergo an immersive, innovative, and evidence-based treatment experience. Waismann Method® alcohol treatment includes an individualized program of private or group yoga, tai chi, meditation practice, drama therapy, and intensive individual psychotherapy sessions. Each therapeutic program is unique because it is customized to a patient’s particular needs, goals, and preferences. We have been successfully treating patients for over two decades.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol addiction and dependence, contact the experts at Waismann Method®. Our medically supervised alcohol detox and recovery program offers a safe, discreet, and effective way to return to a life free of alcohol.

How to Get Off Kratom?

Kratom may be toxic and even deadly. Even at low to moderate doses, kratom can lead to potentially harmful side effects. These can include:

  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Decreased respiratory functioning
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Liver damage

In more severe cases or combined with other substances, kratom can also lead to seizures and coma.


There has been a significant uptick in reports of kratom toxicity to poison control centers since 2008, when it began growing in popularity in the United States. These statements include several fatalities. Kratom may be particularly dangerous when taken with other drugs, such as benzodiazepines, other opioid medications, or even nasal decongestants.

As of early 2016, four states banned kratom, with more states considering a ban on drugs. The Food and Drug Administration has moved to seize the drug and make it a controlled substance. Furthermore, the European Union and parts of Asia have also banned it. This is because of its dangerous effects and the potential for kratom addiction.


Kratom’s effects are very similar to opioid drugs, making a medical detox the safest and most comfortable way to get through the withdrawal. Due to the drug’s varied strengths, kratom withdrawal symptoms may be significant and potentially dangerous.  Having medical professionals monitor vital signs and managing withdrawal symptoms allows a much higher chance for a successful outcome than other-self managing options.

It is important to remember that NIDA studies show that drugs like Kratom may harm the brain’s regions responsible for controlling emotions, making decisions, and controlling impulses. Also, abusing other substances in conjunction with Kratom dramatically increases the potential of adverse effects or interactions, placing the person at significant health risk.

Addiction affects people differently, emotionally and physically. A treatment that works for one person may not be adequate for someone else. That is why Waismann Method® team works directly with the patient to determine the best protocol. Treatment for kratom abuse and addiction may include rapid detox or medically assisted methods in a private accredited hospital.  A successful detox is the most crucial step to reach a healthy path in life.


NIH: America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse
Practical Pain Management: FDA Orders Seizure of Supplements Containing Kratom
FDA: The Agency’s Scientific Evidence on the Presence of Opioid Compounds in Kratom

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